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Alfaro finds no barriers on cross country course

By Jessica Smith

NCAA.org

In running, as in life, the race is not always won by the swift but by those who keep moving forward. That is evident in Gallaudet cross-country student-athlete Ivan Alfaro.

It’s not uncommon to see Alfaro running swiftly through rolling terrain with quick dips and uneven footing. Like most other runners who have faced cross-country courses and rugged trails, he has fallen. Each time, he picks himself up.

But there is an extra ounce of bravery Alfaro displays when toeing the line of a cross-country course.  He suffers from Ushers Syndrome, which is a rare genetic disorder that has left him legally blind and deaf. The condition is incurable. With it, comes a different challenge that other runners don’t face.

“I have no peripheral vision and there are several depths that I can’t perceive,” said Alfaro. “ I don’t let it stop me.”

While he has to work harder to be aware of the other runners during a race, or though he might fall, he keeps moving forward.  The perseverance has paid off.

Alfaro has already made an impact in his sophomore year at Gallaudet. He helped the Bison’s cross country team to an eighth-place finish at the NEAC Championships last fall, finishing 22nd overall., He also ran a new school record in the 3,000-meter run on the track last spring.

Alfaro credits hard work, along with motivation from head coach Mikaela Hudson, to that success during his freshman campaign.

“Last year and this year my coach really pushed me,” said Alfaro. “She pushed me out of my comfort zone.  She taught me to trust my intuition.  Now, I am a more confident runner.  I trust myself and trust the race.”

Alfaro also trusts in his ability to succeed in the classroom. He loves to learn, and it’s easy to see that Alfaro has an unwavering commitment to success both in the classroom and in running.  He carries a 4.0 GPA. 

“I’m equally committed to education and athletics,” said Alfaro. “Finding the balance between the two.  When I am in class I am focused on my studies and learning. And when I am on the track I am focused on my workout or my competition.”

Alfaro embodies the virtues of a student-athlete. He’s committed to success in athletics, in the classroom and in life, no matter what obstacles come his way.  With his persevering spirit and commitment to excel­lence, Alfaro will keep running towards success this fall and in the in the future.