L-W North golfer overcomes blindness
Talking to him, the Lincoln Way North senior is impressive by just about any standard. He is an all-conference varsity golfer, a member of the history and math honor societies and a member of the Future Business Leaders of America. He bowls, plays basketball and writes a monthly advice column.
He also is legally blind.
Matt Juskie’s advice isn’t for the likes of Dear Abby fans. Instead, at 17, he answers questions for the Illinois Parents of Visually Impaired. He helps people learn what to expect after they discover their children are low or no vision.
At 3 months old, Juskie was diagnosed with Aniridia, which is the lack of iris. He has no pupil to dilate. He also has Nystagnus, which is uncontrolled constant eye movement.
“The flood of light, especially outside light, can be painful,” Juskie’s dad, Ken, said.
To hear Juskie talk about it, his vision is just another issue to deal with, just like everyone has. His issue is merely more obvious than others’.
“I was never raised to take advantage of the situation, to use it as a handicap, an excuse to slack off,” the teen said.
To earn his all-conference status, Juskie shot an 82 at Sanctuary Golf Course, placing 12th in the Southwest Suburban Red Conference tourney Oct. 1. Unlike the stereotypical teen begging to escape parental supervision, Juskie is only getting closer to his family. His dad is his golf spotter.
“He’ll say ‘I want to hit 10 feet left of the flag,’ I line him up, then he pulls the trigger, he hits the shot,” Juskie’s dad said.
According to the IHSA rules, a spotter may give only information that other players already have. For example, a spotter can give distances, and locate obstacles, such as trees, but not suggest what clubs to use.
Every time Juskie plays, his dad is always there as the spotter. Ken Juskie said it’s a dream to be able to experience the highs and lows with his son.
“It’s exciting because I can hang out with my teenage boy,” Ken Juskie said.
Matt Juskie has been swinging a golf ball since he was 3. Even though he has no depth perception and cannot see the target, he is an exact yardage player. Once his spotter tells him distance and obstacles, he hits the ball accordingly.
Juskie hopes to continue playing golf in college. He has applied to state universities to studies business management and minor in marketing or accounting.
“Everyone has to deal with struggles in their life, whether it is emotional or physical, everyone has their biggest thing to overcome,” Juskie said. “I really try not to let it affect my life at all.”