BLAINE -- Pole vaulting is an obstacle in itself, sprinting with a 14-foot fiberglass pole, planting it in the ground and arcing up and over a high bar.
Brainerd Warriors junior pole vaulter Adam Spindler has another obstacle to overcome when he competes.
He is deaf.
Educational interpreter Cathy Saxum is Spindler's constant companion at meets and practices. She uses sign language to relay to Spindler instructions from coaches and rules outlined by meet officials.
"There's no problem. Deaf people can do everything with the exception of hearing. I enjoy pole vaulting and I can do that."
Adam Spindler, BHS junior
"It's the same as the classroom," Saxum said Friday at the Class 3A True Team state track and field meet at the National Sports Center. "Anytime anybody is speaking we sign to him. And, whenever he signs we voice to the coaches what he said.
"I go to all the practices. I'm out there with him through everything."
Spindler, 17, said through Saxum's interpretation that being a deaf athlete is not an obstacle.
"There's no problem," he said. "Deaf people can do everything with the exception of hearing. I enjoy pole vaulting and I can do that."
Spindler watched the track team a few times before deciding pole vaulting was something he wanted to experience.
"So I told the coach, 'I would like to try it, and he said, 'Go ahead and try it,'" Spindler said. "I tried it a couple times and enjoyed it. I thought that would be a good experience. It was a good decision to do that."
Initially, Spindler was apprehensive about going out for track.
"At first I felt alone or isolated because I didn't know a lot of the kids," he said. "Then they started to support me. Now, I really like it."
Spindler cleared 8 feet at Friday's meet, placing 23rd in the competition. He has pole vaulted as high as 8 feet, 6 inches, this season.
"I have gone 8-6 my first year so I'm almost at 9," he said. "I am trying. Today, I went 8 feet. I consider that a success because I got points for the team and it's important to get all the points you can."
Spindler, who also wrestles, said coaches in both sports have been supportive.
"I want to thank the wrestling coaches and the track coaches," he said. "I feel I am having a positive experience because of them."
Spindler is not the only one having a positive experience. The opportunity to sign for an athlete makes track and field an enjoyable experience for Saxum and other interpreters employed by the school district.
"All of us love to do the sports thing," she said. "It lets us see the kids in a different light.
"We actually feel involved with the team. We see the kids at practice every day. We become like another cheerleader in the stands for them."
Spindler experiences everything that other athletes encounter, thanks to supportive teammates, coaches and interpreters.
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