Center Point Urbana senior doesn’t let the fact that he’s blind stop him from playing football

Center Urbana Senior James Peterson is legally blind but that doesn’t stop him from playing the game he loves.
Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 6:17 AM CDT
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CENTER POINT, Iowa (KCRG) - Never put limitations on your children. If they believe they can do something they will find away to get it done, no matter what kind of odds they face.

Center Point Urbana Senior James Peterson is legally blind but that doesn’t stop him from playing the game he loves.

James is the starting center for the Center Point Urbana Stormin Pointers.

“My parents felt very strongly about not telling me I couldn’t do things because they believed I could do it no matter what,” James said.

“He doesn’t look at his disability as a disability," CPU offensive line coach Kevin McCauley said. "He acts like he’s a normal high school student, and he’s out here to play. If you didn’t know he had a visual disability he wouldn’t know that when you watch the game.”

James was diagnosed with Stargardt disease when he was in the third grade.

“It’s a disease in the back of the retina actually,” James said. “It affects the macula. If I was standing 20 feet away from something and you were standing 400-500 feet away from it, you would be able to see that thing with as much clarity as I could from only 20 feet away.”

James said his central vision is actually worse than his peripheral vision, so he looks through the side of his eyes. But James has never used his lack of sight as an excuse on the football field or the classroom, where is ranked number one in his class with a perfect 4.0 GPA.

“I use a lot of different tools to help me out in school to see the things that I need to,” James said. “With things on the board, teachers can share their screens with me. It allows me to see what they are reading on the board. I also have a device that magnifies papers, so I can see what the paper says and write on it.”

It’s that high level of intelligence that also helps James on the football field.

It really helps that he’s smart because he knows every play to the “T,” coach McCauley said. “He knows exactly where to go regardless what defense comes out there, or if they shift at the last minute, he still knows what he supposed to do. He is just so disciplined and mechanical, it’s pretty amazing what he can do. His vision impairment doesn’t even seem like it’s an impairment on the field.”

Basically they just show me where I need to go and that’s where I go," James said. “When we do scout, they’ll show a play card, and I’ll just have the guy to my right or left tell me what I’m supposed to do and I will just do it.”

You would think safety would be a concern for James and his coaches, but it’s not.

“He has worked hard in the off-season, he’s always in the weight room regularly,” coach McCauley said. “And so we are really not concerned for her safety, because I think he makes up for it with his preparation and his intelligence of the game.”

James is a true inspiration to everyone around him.

“He is an inspiration, not just with kids with disabilities, but all of us,” CPU Head Coach Dan Burke said. “If we have anything that we’re kind of feeling sorry for ourselves about certain things or whatever, look at James, he’s overcome all these things, and he never complains. He’s always in a good mood. He is a role model to us all.”

“It makes me proud, to realize that I can be that to people.”

James will attend Iowa State next year and major in Computer Engineering.

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