Stepping up to the plate

Trojans softball player not held back by blindness

Sheelsa Steed has been blind in her eye since birth, and can remember when she first communicated to her parents that she saw things differently.

“I can see movement and colour in my eye, but that’s about it. I’m considered legally blind,” Steed said.

Lack of sight has never held this student athlete back from giving 100 per cent on and off the field.

She’s excelled at playing shortstop with the team while in her second year of the rehabilitation program at SAIT.

The Trojan has come up with some tried and true methods that keep her at the top of her game despite her lack of depth perception.

“When I’m playing the field, the ball comes at me fast, so I have to play a little further back, and whenever I have trouble judging the distance of the ball, I use my body to help make the catch,” Steed said.

“My teammates joke around sometimes and say that I’m dancing on the field when there’s a pop fly.

“It looks like I’m dancing because I have to go back and forth in order judge where it will land.”

Steed said that ever since moving to Calgary, her Trojan teammates have become like family to her.

Originally from Port Alberni, B.C., the athlete has accumulated over 10 years of softball experience in her lifetime.

Before coming to SAIT she played for her hometown’s club team, the Port Alberni Blaze.

“When I was five or six I was at my cabin on the ocean and I was looking through binoculars at some ships passing by. I asked my parents, ‘why do binoculars have two holes when you can only see out of one?’” she said.

With comments like these, as well as a string of intense headaches from her left eye working over time, a doctor finally gave Steed and her parents a diagnosis.

In an attempt to strengthen her eye, Steed attended vision therapy at 13 years old, but did not achieve the expected results.

When the student athlete joined her first competitive softball team, she didn’t feel the need to tell people about her disadvantage, since it didn’t seem like a big deal to her.

She was more focused on playing her best.

“When I was younger, I never really came out and told my coaches or teammates that I was blind in my right eye.

“Mostly, people are really surprised when I tell them.”

For Steed, the most challenging part of playing softball with no sense of depth perception is being up at the plate.

“Batting is a struggle, I’ve got to turn my head differently and the same goes for bunting, so it’s just something I have to deal with.”

People may be surprised by Steed’s ability to adapt and excel in her sport, but for her, it’s a natural way to live.

“Whenever I have struggles with my sight, if I take my time, I do better.”

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