Competitive Drive: Andale Para-athlete finds confidence, chases Olympic dreams

Competitive Drive

ANDALE, Kan. (KSNW) – The first time Kasey Nickel saw someone throw a shot put, she wanted to try it for herself.

“I was first introduced to shot put by watching an advertisement for the Olympics,” recalled Nickel, an Andale High School graduate. “I was like, wow, they must be really happy. I wonder what that feels like.”

At the time, the Andale native wasn’t as confident as she is today.

“I didn’t know where I was going to be going in my life,” said Nickel. “I never felt comfortable in my own body. You feel like eyes are on you all the time.”

At birth, Nickel suffered a stroke that triggered cerebral palsy, a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture.

“My right side will never do what my left side can do,” said Nickel. “The earlier you learn that’s how it’s going to be for the rest of your life, the better it’s going to be.”

In eighth grade, Nickel would find purpose and a sense of belonging through adaptive sports, surrounded by others who could relate to her struggles while working toward athletic excellence.

“This is my family,” said Nickel. “These are the people I’m surrounded by, and I’m going to be surrounded by them for the rest of my life.”

Her newfound family would keep her returning to the field until she was ranked first in the nation at shot and discus while earning top 10 world marks at the US Paralympic trials in June.

“The motivation from my friends and family just keep me on my feet, and I’ll let you in on a little secret – watching Olympic movies.”

Now, Nickel hopes for an Olympic journey of her own as she sets her eyes on Paris 2024.

“To be one step closer every year, it’s going to hit me like a rock,” said Nickel.

Nickel is currently on the track team at the University of Texas at Arlington. In preparation for the Paralympics, she plans on competing Internationally over the next few years.

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