Jerone Samari may not be the fastest on the team or the strongest. But he trains just as hard — if not harder — than everyone else. For his teammates and coaches, Samari’s determination means more than any gold medal or trophy.
The 16-year-old senior at Maui Preparatory Academy was born with cerebral palsy, which limits his use of the left side of his body. But that hasn’t stopped him from completing eight triathlons and competing on his school’s track, swim, and golf teams.
“Sometimes I feel like I let my teammates down, but that may be more in my head,” says Samari, who’s team captain. “No matter how much you question your abilities, nothing holds you back except yourself.”
That positive attitude has enabled Samari to improve his time in the 500-yard freestyle swim by two minutes and drive golf balls up to 180 yards using just his right arm. He’s known as the heart of the teams.
Samari hopes to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology later this year and major in physics. No matter where he ends up, he plans to continue playing. Not for the sport of it, but for life. “Competing is fun,” he says. “But it’s the work ethic you develop from training that’s more important.”
Photos courtesy of Jerone Samari.
Look for a photo essay with Samari and other student athletes in the winter issue of Island Scene.