‘All-American’ status

By: Mark Vest | Woodward Talk | Published June 27, 2017

 Berkley High student-athlete Margaret Beaudoin recently won three silver medals at the U.S. Paralympic Track & Field National Championship in Los Angeles.

Berkley High student-athlete Margaret Beaudoin recently won three silver medals at the U.S. Paralympic Track & Field National Championship in Los Angeles.

Photo provided by Jessica Stilger

Although she just recently completed her sophomore year at Berkley High, Margaret Beaudoin is already making her mark at the national level.

Beaudoin competed in the U.S. Paralympic Track & Field National Championship June 2-4 in Los Angeles. She finished with three silver medals in the events of shot put, javelin and discus in what was her first time competing in the adult nationals.

“It’s really exciting,” Beaudoin said. “I feel like I could do even better than what I’m doing right now. Being able to go to the Paralympic championships this year felt amazing to me.”

Beaudoin followed up her national run by winning nine gold medals at the Thunder in the Valley Games June 16-18 in Saginaw.

At the Thunder in the Valley Games, Beaudoin competed for the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association (GLASA), with her and her two teammates winning the small team trophy award.

Beaudoin competes in the T37 and F37 disability classes, with category 37 defined as athletes who have movement and coordination problems on one half of their body, but have good ability on their dominant side.

Beaudoin had a stroke when her mom, Christine McNish, was pregnant with her, and as a result has hemiplegic cerebral palsy.

Given that the stroke was on the right side of Beaudoin’s brain, everything on the left side of her body was affected, according to McNish.

McNish also said her daughter can’t see peripherally out of the left side of both eyes.

Beaudoin’s disability has not prevented her from achieving at a high level. In both 2015 and 2016, Beaudoin was named a U.S. Paralympics Track & Field High School All-American by the Paralympics, which is a division of the United States Olympic Committee. Beaudoin was the only female athlete from Michigan to receive All-American status in either of those years.

As of the June 4 World Para Athletics Rankings for the F37 class, Beaudoin was ranked 14th in Women’s Discus Throw, 16th in Women’s Javelin and 17th in Women’s Shot Put.

According to McNish, Beaudoin also holds the U-18 U.S. national records for shot put, discus and javelin in the F37 class.

Along with the accolades, McNish said the camaraderie developed with other competitors and their families has been one of the best gifts to come from her daughter’s efforts.

“It became another family, almost, in the sense that everyone’s so welcoming and supportive,” McNish said. “The parents and kids are supportive of each other. So, when you go to these events, it just feels right. It feels like you really belong somewhere, and you have a group of people who understand you and the challenges you’ve had. … Margaret’s self-esteem was dramatically impacted by this.”

McNish added that Beaudoin wants more people with disabilities to have the same kind of experiences she has had.

“She actively talks to and recruits other kids into doing this,” McNish said. “She’s done a good job of taking that next step.”

As impressive as Beaudoin’s feats have been up to this point, her biggest goal of all is still out there for the taking.

The Paralympic Games in 2020 will be held in Tokyo, and Beaudoin wants to be there with Team USA.

“My goal is to go the Paralympics in 2020 or 2024,” she said. “I would be so happy.”

Beaudoin added that she wants to “be at the highest level I can and be on top of the world ranking list.”

Beaudoin is also making her mark at the local level. She earned her varsity letter and was named Female Field Athlete of the Year for Berkley’s track and field team.

“Being able to earn points for the team and all this other stuff I’ve been able to do the past two years, I feel like I’ve accomplished something for (my) high school,” said Beaudoin, who has qualified to compete in a variety of events at the Adaptive Sports USA 2017 Junior Nationals in Middleton, Wisconsin, in July.

Berkley coach Les Hale said Beaudoin earned her accolades.

“It wasn’t a gift,” he said. “We try not to give any athlete anything. She worked for it.”

Along with being a coach for GLASA, Cindy Housner is also its founder and executive director. From her perspective, playing for Berkley has contributed to Beaudoin’s progress.

“Margaret has a very strong work ethic and has been improving each year,” Housner said. “It’s wonderful that she’s able to compete with her high school, and that has assisted in improving both her times and her distances. … We’re really happy that she’s joined our team, and we’re also working with her so she can be a better athlete.”