A Center Point Urbana High School football senior isn't letting his condition keep him from doing what he loves.

Center Point's James Peterson is legally blind but he won't be stopped from stepping onto the football field to play center for his school's team.


“My parents felt very strongly about not telling me I couldn’t do things because they believed I could do it no matter what,” James told KCRG.

Todd Peterson

"He acts like he’s a normal high school student, and he’s out here to play,"  "He acts like he’s a normal high school student, and he’s out here to play. If you didn’t know he had a visual disability, you wouldn’t know that when you watch the game.” Offensive Line Coach Kevin McCauley said.

James was diagnosed with Stargardt disease when he was in third grade.

“It’s a disease in the back of the retina actually,” James said. “It affects the macula. If I was standing 20 feet away from something and you were standing 400-500 feet away from it, you would be able to see that thing with as much clarity as I could from only 20 feet away.”

He says his central vision is much worse than his peripheral vision. To James, that's no reason to slack off on the field or in the classroom. He maintains a 4.0 GPA, and ranked #1 in his class.

“I use a lot of different tools to help me out in school to see the things that I need to,” James said. “With things on the board, teachers can share their screens with me. It allows me to see what they are reading on the board. I also have a device that magnifies papers, so I can see what the paper says and write on it.”

Coach McCauley thinks highly of James' quick thinking, as well as his intelligence on the field. “He knows exactly where to go regardless what defense comes out there, or if they shift at the last minute, he still knows what he supposed to do. He is just so disciplined and mechanical, it’s pretty amazing what he can do. His vision impairment doesn’t even seem like it’s an impairment on the field.”

James will attend Iowa State next year, and plans to major in Computer Engineering.

Read more at KCRG

Enter your number to get our free mobile app