My life journey started on August 31, 1989 in Colorado Springs, at the Air Force Academy where my father was stationed. It was a normal birth with no complications. A year and a half later, my father was transferred to Fairbanks, Alaska and the family went with him.
At the age of two I got a serious ear infection that caused my hearing to be diagnosed as legally deaf. This hearing issue delayed my cognitive learning process. When I started elementary school, I was tested and placed into Special Education due to being behind the learning curve. I then was put on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This written document is to help parents have goals and a plan for the student to educationally catch up with their peers and to have success in their future adult lives.
On my first IEP it was written that I would not amount to anything in my life. This was not very optimistic for the Special Education Team and something that should never be written in a plan that is designed to give hope and a path for students to succeed. The impact of this would later motivate me to prove them wrong, to prove that I could make something of myself.
I was in Special Education during my elementary schooling as my family traveled with my dad when he was transferred to Germany, Mississippi, and finally Idaho. In the sixth grade I was reevaluated and, in my first big step to proving them wrong, I passed out of the Special Education Services. School was a challenge though. Due to my years in Special Education, I struggled with pace, therefore it took me a lot longer to get things accomplished academically and stay at each grade level. I also struggled with confidence issues. Though I had these challenges, I continued to press on and graduated high school knowing I wanted to prove them wrong.
At the age of 19, I served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This mission helped me with my confidence and self-worth while also allowing me to pick up a passion for teaching. After returning home I had a desire to teach and decided to enroll in college in pursuit to become a Special Education Teacher. It was my desire to help students, like me, to achieve beyond what people expected of them and to reach their desired goals. Though it has taken me a long time to graduate, I’ve never given up, because I wanted to prove them wrong.
Sports has always played an important role while growing up. It was the one thing where I felt comfortable and confident. It gave me a sense of joy and happiness that would help me through some tough times with depression in my life. My first semester in college, I took a basketball refereeing class and this began my passion for officiating. I started officiating high school basketball, baseball and softball and a year later, I was introduced to USA Softball and started traveling out of state to work tournaments. It was then that I found out the potential of what USA Softball umpiring could offer me and how it could help me grow. Not to mention what I could achieve and continue to prove.
From that day forward I have set many goals for myself and with the help of many mentors, I have achieved many of them. Though I have many goals to still accomplish, one thing that is certain is that I have definitely amounted to something in my life and have proved those who wrote my first IEP that they were wrong.
For those who struggle academically or were told they weren’t going to amount to anything I say to you, “prove them wrong” and work hard to accomplish goals.
I am Michael Elkins! I am a USA Softball Elite Umpire!