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Making the Move from Sidelines to Game Time: Ohio's Brooklynn Crist

By Andrea Mortimer on May 25, 2021 Students with Disabilities Print

For Cloverleaf (Ohio) High School senior Brooklynn Crist, participating on her high school adapted track and field team was a means to an end. As the youngest member, of the U.S. Women’s Sled Hockey team, Crist originally started competing in track and field to cross train.

“I was not fond of it at all my freshman year, I just put up with it.” Crist said with a laugh.

Crist went from ‘putting up with’ track and field her freshman year to loving the sport because of her teammates, coaches, and the sense of belonging that being a part of her high school team gave her.

“I learned to love the sport because of the people I was involved with - like the coaches.” Crist explained. “Before, I was hesitant because of sports that I've been in previously. They separate you, because they don't know how to coach you. My coaches took it head on and said, Okay, I don't know how to do this, but we're going to go to this, this, and this. They went to meetings and went to check out the chair with us. And they really showed us that they cared.”

Crist, who was born without a hip joint, has never let her disability define her.

“When I was younger, I always told myself, ‘okay, I have to show people that just because I'm disabled, it doesn't mean I can't do anything’. I've always used that as motivation,” Crist said.

That ‘can do anything’ mentality helped Crist earn trips to the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Track and Field state championships her freshman and sophomore years.

Inclusive programming in high school activities is something that Crist believes is vital to the student experience. If the opportunities are available, people with disabilities will take advantage of them.

“I'm a very outgoing person, until it comes to making friends with my leg and my disability,” Crist said. “But when I was on the track team, I felt like I actually had friends that I could talk to and joke around with in the hallways. It's made me a better person being involved in that.”

Being involved has not only benefited Crist, but the other students, and coaches, in her school district.

“My coach always says to me, ‘we're all still learning. This is a still learning process.’” Crist said. It kind of makes me feel cool just paving the way and helping to build that security, so that when other people come up, they will know how to take care of them. They will know how to train them to make them better. It’s made the coaches and the athletes that I'm surrounded with open their eyes a little bit and say, ‘Wow, there are other athletes out there. It’s not just able-bodied athletes’, which I think is really cool.”


 (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Crist)