Paralympic athlete visits MAUMS
BENNINGTON--Agusto "Goose" Perez dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player for the greater part of his life, but when his left leg was amputated after three bouts with cancer, that dream disappeared.
While professional soccer was taken out of the equation, Perez told students during a presentation at Mount Anthony Union Middle School Wednesday that he set new goals and started playing different sports days after losing the leg. A couple years later he was on the United States Paralympic curling team and represented his country in the 2006 Paralympics in Turin, Italy, and again in Vancouver, Canada in 2010.
Perez, who was invited to the school by Brian Keller, family consumer science teacher, spoke to students about the importance of education, setting goals, competing clean without steroids and to reflect on his personal accomplishments.
Perez, who was born in Spain and now lives in East Syracuse, N.Y., also spoke about making the best of opportunities when they are presented.
After making the decision to have his leg amputated to ensure cancer would not spread from it to other parts of his body, Perez said he attended a friend’s graduation party five days after the surgery. He began physical activities days after that, and within a couple years he was competing at the Paralympic level.
"I was asked to try disabled sports, or what they call physically challenged sports or whatever you want to call it, I call it WD- 40 sports because I used to carry Bengay when I played soccer and now I carry WD-40," he said. "The leg doesn’t stop me. It slows me down maybe a little bit."
Perez said it wasn’t easy to prepare to compete at the Paralympic level but he continues to work hard and train at least four days a week.
"You need to train the same way you want to compete," Perez said.
To motivate himself, Perez said he keeps a piece of paper with a sentence on it with him that he reads to remind himself of the need to practice.
"This is what I use to be better than the other competitors that I compete against," Perez said as he pulled out the piece of paper. "It says basically, ‘somewhere, someone is training harder than you.’"
One thing he told students he wouldn’t do is use performance enhancing drugs to cheat not only himself, but his country, teammates and athletes he competes against.
"In the long run, it’s not only not healthy for you to take drugs because they do damage to you, but it’s not fair," he said.
Perez also showed students a video of some of his curling clips. Perez and his teammates curl in a way similar to the way someone who is not disabled would, except Paralympics athletes do not sweep off the ice as the rock slides, and the rock is pushed with a stick instead of released from the hand.
After two separate lectures to groups of students in the middle school gymnasium, Perez visited with students in Keller’s class, where students had an opportunity to compete in an indoor curling match.
Keller was chosen to participate in the True Sports Award sponsored by the United States Anti-Doping Agency this summer and was asked to present his ideas to other participants at a conference in Colorado. Keller worked with the USADA to bring Perez to the middle school.
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