TIJ Blog Post – James Gilliard: The Human Web

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In past blog posts, I’ve talked about the importance of getting out there. While an important first step is getting off the sidelines and taking your first athletic steps, it’s certainly not the last. You also need to connect with other people. While online ones are okay, the physical, personal ones are better.

Most of the time, these personal connections will come through other athletes with disabilities (AWDs), coaches and those you come in contact with as you compete. And these connections may have connections that can help you. I see this as the human web, as everyone’s interconnected.

As an example of what I mean, you might need access to a specific training facility. You don’t directly know anyone that can help, but your coach may know someone who knows someone who does. I know it sounds like ‘my cousin’s brother’s uncle’s friend’ that people sometimes spit out, but that’s just the way the web works. You never know where these connections will come from, so be willing to be social with people. A great post on what can happen when you say yes to people is Rachel’s latest one on her speaking tour [link].

One thing that I’ve found recently is that there are common linkages within the AWD community. For example, someone that’s handling AWD needs for a race could also be involved in other AWD organizations and help to create even more connections for you. I found that to be true when I met Keri Serota at the Shamrock Shuffle. Not only was she the AWD coordinator for the race, but she’s also the co-founder and executive director of Dare2Tri [www.dare2tri.org]. I will be at the ParaTriathlon camp in May because she made me aware of the organization / camp.

I realize that it’s not always easy to make these connections. But they are so well worth it, both in the short and long term. Don’t be over concerned with whatever disability you have and how others may perceive it. Just be yourself, be out there, and everything else will fall into place as it should!

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