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Wesley Eversole: Living with Asperger’s doesn’t prevent one from achieving life goals


My name is Wesley Eversole. I am a 2011 graduate of the University of Louisville’s sport administration program. I have a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome.

 

What is Asperger’s syndrome? Asperger’s syndrome is officially defined as “a developmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to socialize and communicate with others.” Indeed, growing up I found it difficult to socialize and interact with my peers. It was not because I did not want to interact with them. I just did not know how to. I was born ten weeks premature, weighed two pounds and had to spend the first five months of my life in the hospital. Sometimes my family wonders if my autism was caused by my premature birth.

 

At about age 3 I developed an interest in clocks and calendars. You might say I became obsessed with them. Obsessions are also a trait of someone with Asperger’s. I could tell time at an early age and was very good at keeping up with schedules. I became fascinated with the calendar and by age four people could give me a date and I could tell them what day of the week it would fall on. When I was younger, I had the calendar memorized because I have a photographic memory. As I got older, I developed a formula or process for arriving at the day. I can do it for several years in the future and can even go back in history.

 

Wesley Eversole

My interest in sports began early in my life. When I was little, my family and I would sometimes go watch my Aunt Julie play tennis for the University of Louisville. We would also go to Eastern High School to watch the Eagles play football on Friday nights. With no major professional sports franchises in town, we found ourselves following either the Minor League Baseball Louisville Redbirds or the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals, since they were the closest major sports franchise to Louisville.

 

I have attended some memorable college games. I was in attendance at the Kentucky/Michigan State game at Ford Field in Detroit on Dec. 13, 2003, when we set the world record for the largest attendance at a basketball game. The best part of the game was that Kentucky won, 79-74. I also attended the 2006 Music City Bowl in Nashville, when Kentucky upset heavily favored Clemson, 28-20. Although it was not an actual game, I attended my Aunt Julie’s induction ceremony into the University of Louisville’s Athletics Hall of Fame and met some well-known sports figures, including Howard Schnellenberger and Ray Buchanan.

 

It was not until the mid-1990s that I started to closely follow college sports, particularly the University of Kentucky football and men’s basketball teams. I began following the Kentucky men’s basketball team during the three year run (1996-1998) they made to the NCAA Championship game, winning two of them in 1996 and 1998. I began following the Kentucky football team during the 1998 season, the year Tim Couch led Kentucky to the Outback Bowl and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. I have followed both the football and men’s basketball teams in both good times and bad.

 

When I started attending Trinity High School in 2001, I became the school’s biggest fan, following all the sports teams. The football team won the Class 4-A State Championship my first three years at Trinity. One of the greatest football games in state history-and some say of all time-occurred during my sophomore year at Trinity, when the Shamrocks defeated Male 59-56 for the 2002 Class 4-A State Championship. Both teams were undefeated and ranked in the Top 25 nationally when the game was played.

 

My junior year, the basketball team made the state tournament for the first time in school history, where we had a very memorable game in the quarterfinals against Mason County. Unfortunately, that one did not end well, as the Royals ended up winning it 66-59 in three overtimes. It would be another eight years before Trinity returned to the state tournament, but it was worth the wait because we won our first state title in 2012, beating Scott County 71-53 in the finals. Ironically, Scott County was the same team the football team had beaten 62-21 to win the state football title that year. In doing so, they became the first team in Kentucky to win a state title in football and basketball in the same school year and also won the school’s first national title in football.

 

After my graduation from Trinity High School in 2005, I moved to Lexington to attend Bluegrass Community College with the intention of transferring to UK. Unfortunately, UK did not have a degree program that I was interested in, so I transferred to the University of Louisville after three years to pursue a degree in Sport Administration. Though I lived in a dorm, I was living independently and it was a very rewarding experience. I hope to be able to live independently in the future, but I don’t drive and my job as a bagger at Kroger does not afford me the opportunity to live alone. Ultimately, I would like to find a job in the sports administration field and hope that my sports column and blogging will garner some attention from someone that needs a great sports researcher.

 

My behind-the-scenes exposure to sports came when I worked as an intern at Louisville Slugger Field getting the stadium ready for each home game. The internship was a critical component of my sports administration degree. It was great experience and allowed me to see how stadium operations were handled.

 

I consider myself fortunate because even though I was born prematurely and am living with Asperger’s syndrome, I was able to graduate from college. With support from your family and friends and a lot of perseverance, you or somebody you know with Asperger’s Syndrome can achieve your goals and live a productive life doing what you love to do.

 

You can read the Wesley Eversole’s first UK sports column on the KyForward sports page.


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