One Calif. teen heads to Ireland to represent the United States at IWAS
It wasn’t always easy, but Teylor Becher is fine the way she is.
Becher, 17, says that growing up was pretty hard greatly because she didn’t know much about her own disability and didn’t know others with disabilities. But now, that once uncertain little girl is on her way to Ireland to represent the United States at the 2018 IWAS Junior World Games.
The Long Beach, Calif., resident has a birth injury known as brachial plexus of the C/5-C/7 nerves of the spinal-cord that affected the growth and use of her arm.
“There wasn’t anyone like me, so I always felt alone,” says Becher. “I never understood why it happened to me or why I had to go through my life with all the bullying. I’d wear sweatshirts in 90-degree weather because I didn’t want people to see my arm.”
Becher lived her life and tried her best not to think about it, and with the support of her friends and family, she learned that she was fine the way that she was.
“God made me this way for a reason and He doesn’t give me things that I can’t handle,” says Becher. “God knew that I could handle this and accomplish great things. I use God as my coping skills. There’s a reason that I’m here. There’s a reason the He made me this way. And there’s a reason that I’m a little bit different than everyone else.”
Despite the tough times, Becher was an exceptional athlete and tried out for just about every sport that came her way. At 3-years-old, Becher’s parents enrolled her in soccer. A sport she played for more than a decade.
Along the way she dabbled in basketball, cheer, dance, figure skating and baseball, but soccer was at her core – her first passion. That is until she learned about a sports clinic at school.
“Cross country was one of the sports presented,” says Becher. “My parents and I went to the table and met the coach and he seemed nice and asked if I’d like to be a runner, so I gave it a try. I ended up falling in love with running. I never played soccer again.”
Becher spent some time on the Lakewood High School track team but found it difficult to relate to the able-bodied athletes. As time passed she realized it was time for a change and left the team.
Becher set off on her own and started training with a private coach who would work on finding ways for Becher to train around her disability without holding her back.
“I’ve had coaches before telling me you can’t do this, or you can’t do that,” says Becher. “Coach Kia Ransom never once told me that I can’t do something. We work on finding ways for me to do stuff.”
Because Becher’s left arm is shorter than her right and can’t touch the ground, Ransom worked with Becher to help find a new starting position for her and help find her balance. Little training tips like that went a long way towards helping Becher find her potential.
During her sophomore year, another coach noticed Becher held her arm a little differently and told her about a track event happening with a category for para-sports Becher would qualify for.
Becher accepted and had three weeks to qualify for the sprinting events. Until now she had only been doing long-distance running. Becher ended up qualifying for the meet and was set to run in the 100, 200 and 400-meter races. She took second-place in all three events.
“Not long after that meet, I was contacted by a Team U.S.A coach who told me all about the Paralympic world,” says Becher. “And since that day, competing in the Paralympics has been my goal … 2020. Definitely my goal.”
Many athletes report experiencing a “natural high” when competing and Becher is no different.
“Running has always been a good escape for me,” says Becher. “When it comes to running there’s this “high” you get. It releases the endorphins in your mind. It makes me happy. It helps me cope with a lot of life. It’s the environment as well as the running itself for me. A better environment for me.”
As Becher readies herself for the trip of a lifetime, she’s reminded of the little girl who never thought she’d achieve this level of competition. She’s reminded of the naysayers who would tell her all the things she “couldn’t” do. She’s reminded about the motto, the greatest disability is a negative mindset, and she’s reminded about the support her parents have given her along the way.
“I picture the little girl in me who could never imagine ever going this far in my sports career,” says Becher. “This is all for the younger me and all the other girls like me out there that have the same thing I have. I want to be the example that I never had.”