First D1 Athlete with Autism

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First D1 Athlete with Autism

Georgia Morris, Co-Editor

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High school senior Kalin Bennett is breaking down barriers for those on the autism spectrum. This past month, Bennett became the first student-athlete with autism to sign a national letter of intent to play on the Division I level at a NCAA school. He was being recruited by many schools but chose to sign with Kent State for the impressive support systems the school already has in place for students with autism.

 

Standing at 6’10’’ and harnessing a strive for perfection, Bennett is expected to be a major contributor to the team. He may have some challenges, as any new recruit would, but Bennett has proved himself able to overcome. His current teammate says, “Some stuff he gets really fast, and some stuff he has to process. The big thing is, when he does have a question, he keeps asking it, instead of moving on to the next play.” On a team, communication is key, and this persistence to fully understand can be a strength.

 

As a child, Bennett’s family was told he would most likely never talk or walk. However, by age 4 he was taking his first steps, and by age 8 he could form full sentences. These processes took longer for Bennett, but hard work and therapy allowed him to overcome his struggles. He excels in basketball, math, and music. Now, Bennett wants to use his own progress to help others. On this topic, Bennett said, “I want to make an impact not just on the court, but with kids that are struggling with the same things I am. I want to use this platform to inspire other kids with autism and non-autism. I want to let them know, hey, if I can do this, you can do it, too. A lot of times they feel alone and by themselves, and I felt that same way growing up.” Bennett is an amazing role model to those with similar lives to his.

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