“He’s pretty quick, got some pretty good speed.”
Brent Beaumont is talking about his teammate, Senior Cole Larsen, who in the past two years achieved something his school has never seen.
“He’s the only one to be back-to-back All-State as a pitcher and the youngest All-State Panther in Concordia baseball history,” said Brandt Hutchinson, head coach of the Concordia Panthers.
Larsen has performed so well, that you wouldn’t bat an eye that something was wrong.
Coincidentally, 8 years ago Cole didn’t bat an eye, but that time something was actually wrong.
“I was about to go deer hunting,” Cole recalls. “I was sighting with my rifle and my dad was like ‘why do you keep looking out of your left eye when you shoot right handed,’ and I was like ‘I’m left eye dominant.'”
At first Cole’s father, Aaron, thought he was messing around, but then later on he gave Cole another test.
“There was a news paper sitting out,” Aaron said. “I asked him if he could read the small print and he couldn’t read that when he closed his left eye. So I knew we had a problem.”
Thinking he needed glasses, Cole was brought to an eye doctor, where it was revealed that the issue was much bigger.
“I found out that I had a detached retina,” Cole said. “They’re not sure what happened, but I’m basically blind in my right eye.”
A detached retina is a rare condition, as it affects less than 200,000 Americans per year, and it’s mostly common to people over the age of 40.
“As it set in a little bit, I noticed the doctors freaking out,” Cole said. “I was like, ugh.. A little scary.”
To prevent it getting worse, Cole immediately underwent surgery.
“A lot of fear,” said Stacy Larsen, Cole’s mother. “You hate to see your little boy go through something like that.”
Fortunately for the family, the surgery was a success, but the damage was already done.
“They did the best that they could do,” Aaron said. “Unfortunately it was something that had happened over time and it’s something that you can’t reverse.”
Luckily for Cole, his eyes adjusted throughout the years, allowing him to see normally and most importantly, allowing him to continue to play sports, even if it comes with a warning.
“One little thing hits me in the eye, I’m done, can’t see,” Cole said.
Cole took every precaution to make sure that doesn’t happen, such as wearing sunglasses or goggles during games, which is a small price to pay to continue doing what he loves.
“I mean, I’m not going to let it stop me from throwing a baseball,” Cole said.
His team is pretty glad of the outcome.
“He really comes after batters,” said Brent Beaumont, who catches Cole every game. “I always work with him to see what he can do.”
“He’s got a promising future with one eye or two eyes,” Hutchinson said. “He’s a lot better than 95 percent of the pitchers out there competing in high school baseball.”
Cole still experiences some vision problems today, especially without the use of his left eye.
When Cole turns 18, he will undergo LASIK surgery to improve his vision even more. At that point, he will look the lead his team to a State Championship in his Senior Year.