Twenty-six Lowcountry athletes and coaches are in Seattle for the 2018 Special Olympics this week. One of those athletes is Summerville native and tennis player Alyssa Bacher.
“Never expected I would get here to nationals. Never thought it would happen,” Bacher said.
She knows in the game of life, the ball doesn’t always bounce quite as true as it does on the tennis court.
“I have mild cerebral palsy, ADD, and autism,” she said.
Bacher is also deaf in one ear. Those challenges aren’t slowing her down as she competes in her first Special Olympics.
“I think it's adrenaline and anticipation of what's going to happen next,” she said of what got her involved in tennis in the first place.
She says doctors didn’t think she’d ever function in a mainstream environment.
“I didn't talk until I was 2 ½, didn't walk until I was five,” she said. “Telling someone I’m disabled…they'll probably walk away from me and not want to be associated with me."
Bacher used that fear as fuel, graduating toward the top of her class in high school and now excelling as one of the top performers at her job at a Alorica, a call center in North Charleston.
“It’s proved people wrong that you don't know what's going to happen,” Bacher added.
And how could she know she'd be in Seattle, representing the Lowcountry at the world's biggest stage in the Special Olympics?
“Saw my email and the coach said you got selected. I was like what?! I couldn't believe that. Being one of 3,000 athletes to participate in something is something you're never going to forget...it's a once in a lifetime honor to be selected in my area,” she said.
Whether staring across the net or staring at her computer, Bacher says she'll leave this week's Special Olympics the same way she arrived: still learning from the game that's taught her so much.
“If the ball doesn't go your way, you can't just have a fit about it. You just let it go and focus on the next ball.”
Bacher is scheduled to participate in two events on Tuesday.