Hi 68 / Lo 50
|Volume 72, Issue 86,
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Life & Arts
Resilient freshman finds purpose in poetry
by ROBYN MORROW
The crowd cheers as he races down the field, football in hand. He can't see anything but the goal line as he nears the end zone.
He can barely hear the fans screaming at the top of their lungs from the stands as he concentrates on making the touchdown. Just a little bit farther, he thinks. The crowd roars as he reaches the end zone. He throws down the ball, dances and laughs as his teammates rush to congratulate him.
Interdisciplinary studies freshman Chris Hunter was a star.
As a middle linebacker and running back for Lanier Middle School, the 14-year-old athlete was in high demand. Every local high school coach hoped he could be the one to hone Hunter's talent. But when he suffered an incapacitating stroke, Hunter's plans changed. Goodbye football, hello academics.
"When I found out that I could never play football again, I felt like my life was over, and I didn't want to do anything else," Hunter said. "I always tell people that I knew how to play football before I could even tie my own shoes, so to have that taken from me was devastating."
The then-eighth grader turned to the director of UH's Forensics Society Michael Fain for direction. With Fain, Hunter was able to foster his new talent: poetry and prose interpretation.
"Forensics really has saved my life," Hunter said in a UH news release. "It changed my perspective on everything."
Fain encouraged Hunter to look for other ways to foster his competitive energy.
Under Fain's direction, Hunter developed the talent that helped him win four out of 11 events at the 41st Annual Colorado College National Invitational Tournament in December.
No other competitor won more than one first-place award at the tournament that included contestants from 50 universities across the nation, a UH news release reported.
Hunter's road to success was a rough one, though. As the youngest of 11, Hunter wasn't afforded the luxuries many of his competitors had. During Tropical Storm Allison, Hunter's family lost everything.
"I doubt that any of the other national performers, who are typically fearful of Chris as a competitor, can even believe Chris's obstacles," Fain said. "Throughout the nation, the most successful performers are often wealthy and coached by full-time coaches. Neither wealth nor faculty have been available to Chris."
Fain, who volunteered to coach Hunter, said the obstacles Hunter has overcome are his most valuable assets when he performs.
"These life experiences can give a performer an honesty and aggression that cannot be ‘coached,'" he said.
Although Hunter and his team train hard to win competitions, Fain said in a release that these accomplishments take a back seat to the Forensic Society's community service mission.
Hunter always ensures that he and his teammates return to their volunteer efforts at inner-city schools and homeless shelters after they have won awards, Fain said.
"I love volunteering," Hunter said. "I think that showing children that you care gives them hope and a light that you help them shine."
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