Student broadcaster with blindness provides unique voice

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. - The Blue Springs High School football team is headed to St. Louis to try to wrap up a perfect season. But the challenges they face on the field are nothing like what one student sportscaster faces each game.

The Friday night lights at the Blue Springs High School football stadium illuminate the game Blake Tarrants knows best. The high school senior knows every move of every Wildcat player on the field.

"If you can't be an artist, then collect the art type thing. That's kind of what I've done. I can't play the sports, but I collect the knowledge," Blake said.

But the high school senior collects the knowledge of a game he's never seen. He doesn't know what a football looks like and he's never seen a player catch a pass.

"I don't want to be the blind kid that does broadcasting; I want it to be the broadcaster that happens to be blind," he said.

During high school football games, he sits in the box next to the play-by-play broadcasters and uses the color to paint a picture of the game in his mind.

His high school journalism professor Matt Marble said Blake sees the game in his own way.

"I feel like he gets almost a truer picture of what's going on in the game and isn't biased by what he sees," Marble said.

Blake take notes on his cell phone and prepares for his online post-game show with players and coaches.

Senior football standout Kaleb Prewett said he's amazed by Blake's talents.

"The first time we played Rockhurst he knew all my stats, knew how many touchdowns I scored and how many tackles I had and I'm like, ‘What? Blake how do you know all that?" Prewett said.

But Blake almost didn't make it to the home of the Wildcats. When he was 18 months old, he developed a viral infection that caused his brain to nearly shut down.  After spending weeks in the hospital, he started to regain his health but his vision never returned.

For the last 17 years, he has been groomed to show the world that he's ready to compete in the major leagues of life.

"If you want to prove that you do deserve to be associated with those-- for the lack of a politically correct term-- normal sighted people, then you have to do a little bit more to prove to the public that you are legit," he said.

While Friday nights are spends studying America's favorite sport, the other days of the week he spends practicing for another passion. Without reading one sheet of music, Blake's fingers grace the strings of his cello.

"I've got the ear for the notes and so once I get the notes down of the song and the rhythm and everything, I can play it from memory," he said.

Growing up on the offensive side of life, Blake tackled every childhood challenge head on. With help from his parents, he learned how to ride a bike and he took piano lessons in elementary school.

Now, almost 10 years later, he's found a game that makes him push downfield, he's found a voice that doesn't give up at the 50 yard line and passion that pulls him out of the darkness.

Blake has been accepted to the University of Missouri School of Journalism; he will start in the fall of 2014.

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