Blind former student coaches CrossFit

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Beep baseball helps kinesiology graduate keep competitive spirit.

By Alyssa Zapata

Obstacles are something December graduate Zachry Arambula faces everyday in and out of the gym.

Arambula, 21, who majored in kinesiology, has only peripheral vision.

He is a coach at CrossFit, 1130 E. Houston St., and participates in CrossFit competitions and beep baseball in competitions around the nation.

Beep baseball uses a specially designed baseball that beeps and bases that buzz while all players are required to wear a blindfold because some still have partial vision.

Beep baseball lasts six innings with three outs per inning and there is no second base.

First and third bases are placed 100 feet down their lines and 10 feet from the foul line.

After the batter gets a hit, one of the bases buzzes through a speaker, but the player does not know which base will be set off.

The game is more challenging on the body because players can’t see and they have to be diving and listening closely for the either the buzz of the base or the ball, Arambula said.

“When I first went blind, I had to understand everything would be different, but I could do anything,” he said.

He began losing his sight at age 14 after being diagnosed with Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy, LHON.

He was introduced to beep baseball the summer he lost his vision and has played for the past five years. He plays for the Austin Blackhawks in the National Beep Baseball Association, and the season continues through July.

Last year Arambula and the Blackhawks won the championship among 35 teams in the league.

There are six players on the field for defense and the positions are first baseman, right fielder, middle, left fielder, third base, and back fielder.

Arambula plays right fielder.

“When I lost my vision, I wasn’t playing any sports, and I was lacking the competitiveness of sports, and baseball filled that space for me,” he said.

Arambula continues to train and compete in beep baseball and hopes to play at the championship again on Aug. 1 in Rochester, N.Y.

Coaching was another way to enter into the competitiveness, he said.

Arambula decided to coach after he interned in high school at a CrossFit.

CrossFit is defined as constantly varied functional movement performed at relatively high intensity, according to the CrossFit website. It consists of lifting weights and cardio.

The excitement of getting athletes to their full potential interests him the most, he said.

Since Arambula is able to see only with his peripheral vision, he has difficulty coaching athletes from across the gym.

He has made himself familiar with the gym so that he is able to walk to each athlete to assist them.

Coaching at CrossFit has allowed him to make friends with people with similar fitness interest and relieve stress.

By coaching he was introduced to competing in CrossFit through his coaches.

Last month Arambula competed in an open competition because every week is with a different type of workout each week.

CrossFit participants around the country can enter to compete in the top 20 in their region and advance to compete in the CrossFit games, he said.

Regionals will be May 15-31 in Dallas for Texas competitors.

“The workouts are intense. For example, one workout was nine minutes of as many rounds you can do,” he said. An example of a round consisted of 15 toes to bar, 10 dead lifts and five snaps.

Through baseball, coaching and competing, Arambula has learned to live his life independently.

“Be your own person and don’t let other people dictate what you do,” he said.


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