Boys track: Andales Pote celebrates his first state javelin title
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Heather Potes sunglasses allowed her a little privacy Friday at Cessna Stadium during the state high school track meet. Her voice, however, betrayed her.
She paused for a long moment, cleared her throat and said, Ill get it.
The cause of Potes emotional moment was her son, Chase, an Andale senior, who had just won the Class 4A javelin with a throw of 184 feet, 8 inches.
Hes had a very long road, Heather Pote said, her voice strong once again. Hes just overcome so much.
Chase Pote has a disarming personality, a smile that is infectious and a voice that tells you hes smiling.
The cochlear implant in his right ear and his interpreter, Valerie Ott, tell a little more about him.
Pote is completely deaf. With the cochlear implant, an electronic device that provides a sense of hearing, he has about 50-percent hearing. Hes had an interpreter, Sara Myers, during school since he was in first grade.
Around his hairline hes got a scar from his surgery following a go-kart accident as a 6-year-old. He was riding with a friend when they hit a moving cars front tire. Pote suffered multiple fractures to facial bones.
Even worse, he was diagnosed with spinal meningitis, which can be caused after trauma to the head. Before he recovered, it had stolen his hearing.
It was traumatic, Pote said. Because I had spinal meningitis four different times. My parents were thinking I was going to die.
He got the cochlear implant, but he had to re-learn how to hear.
They say its more of an auditorial sound, Heather Pote said of the implant. When we hear, we can knock out background noises . He hears everything, so sometimes its just noise. Out here in the wind, that would be a little more difficult unless he was up close. Hes excellent at reading lips, and that helps him. In a quiet setting, he does a lot better.
There were some rough times for Pote growing up deaf. He felt as though people judged him, that some were embarrassed to talk to him because he might not be able to hear them.
But hes able to draw attention away from his disability.
Hes really good at putting people at ease, Myers said. Hes charismatic. His smile, his sense of humor. He has a knack for saying the right thing.
And some of his friends picked up basic sign language, so if an interpreter wasnt there, hed know what was going on.
His positive attitude was likely one reason he was able to remain in Andales school system.
Hes just had lots of hurdles, and hes overcome everything that has been put in front of him, Heather Pote said.
Pote started javelin as a sophomore at the encouragement of his father, Kevin, who threw in college. He made continued progress through that season, going to state but failing to make it to the finals. He finished 10th as a junior.
My technique has improved, said Pote, who doesnt wear his implant during competition. When you are finishing your throw, youre working on your block. I had a terrible block in the past, and Ive improved on that over the years.
His winning throw in 4A wasnt his best his top throw is 190-5 but he was happy. And why not? Hed just won a title.
I feel pretty great about it, he said.
And then he smiled a smile that, well, would make one want to smile back.