No distractions: Farr West teen focuses on goalball goals

Dec 26 2013 - 3:37pm

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ROBBY LLOYD/Special to the Standard-Examiner
Marybai Huking practices tossing a goalball during a session Saturday at the Farr West Recreation Center. Marybai is a two-time USA National Youth Goalball Championship MVP.
ROBBY LLOYD/Special to the Standard-Examiner
Marybai Hukin stops for a photo while practicing her goalball skills at the Farr West Recreation Center. Marybai wants to pursue a career that helps other people with impaired vision.
ROBBY LLOYD/Special to the Standard-Examiner
Marybai Huking practices tossing a goalball during a session Saturday at the Farr West Recreation Center. Marybai is a two-time USA National Youth Goalball Championship MVP.
ROBBY LLOYD/Special to the Standard-Examiner
Marybai Hukin stops for a photo while practicing her goalball skills at the Farr West Recreation Center. Marybai wants to pursue a career that helps other people with impaired vision.

PLAIN CITY -- Marybai Huking seems like a typical student at Fremont High School, except for the fact that she is anything but typical.

Marybai is an athlete in training for an athletic event -- goalball -- that is sponsored in part by the United States Olympic Committee. She hopes to represent America in international competitions over the coming years.

Another thing about Marybai is extraordinary; she's legally blind, yet doesn't view her sight issue as a disability.

"Now, I don't see it as a disability at all," said Marybai, a two-time USA National Youth Goalball Championship MVP. "Now, it makes me push myself that much harder, as I realize that, for a lot of my teachers, I'm like the first blind student they've had, (so) you have to be there and represent all the blind people."

Goalball was created after World War II as a game that visually-impaired veterans could play. The sport involves teams of three trying to throw a bell-embedded ball into their opponents' goal. Players are guided by the sounds the ball makes as it moves. In Paralympic competition, the ball has reportedly been thrown at speeds over 60 mph.

Marybai is an example of what a person can do when they set their mind to it. Already in her young life, she's traveled the country and the world competing in goalball, is an experienced artist and is one of the top students in her class at Fremont.

Indeed, she said she just hopes to do everything as well as she can, as she tries to set a positive example for those around her.

"You feel this sense of being like the role model; someone everyone looks up to," said Marybai, who is taking an American Sign Language class through Weber State University. "It's cool to be that role model, and that one who everyone looks up to."

Fremont principal Dr. Rod Belnap noted Huking is a shining star in her high school.

"Marybai is an inspiration to all who know her," Belnap said. "In addition to her amazing accomplishments in goalball, she is a straight-A student that loves a challenge and really enjoys tutoring and helping others. Incredible!"

Marybai would have taken several more college preparatory classes this school year, were it not for her demanding training for goal ball. Outside of school and goalball, where Marybai both excells, she is a dedicated daughter and sister.

Claire Huking, the mother who adopted Marybai, said her daughter is a very inspirational person.

"She's just a very upbeat, positive person," she said, in reference to Marybai. "It influences her friends in a positive way, and it also attracts really upbeat positive people. She's certainly a really good influence on some of the other goalball players."

Marybai helped the United States win a competition in Sweden, and will also be traveling to Finland. One of her dreams is to play in the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

After that though, the teenage girl said she hopes she can study at either the University of Utah or the University of CaliforniaBerkeley, and hopes to learn how to help other people dealing with vision impairments.

"Being involved with sports ... has opened my eyes to possibly getting into sports science," Huking said.

"I know that I want to be active, and I know that I want to be around people. Something involving being active all the time, and working with people with disabilities."

 

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