Leopard Spotlight: Kevin Brousard

Kevin Brousard will represent the USA at the International Blind Sports Association (IBSA) World Championships in Turkey in April
Kevin Brousard will represent the USA at the International Blind Sports Association (IBSA) World Championships in Turkey in April

University of La Verne junior Kevin Brousard, a thrower on the Leopard track and field team, has not let his vision impairment slow him down. 

Brousard, who is legally blind, unofficially set the American record in the discus throw for visually impaired athletes, recognized by the United States Association of Blind Athletes.

The throw occurred during the Leopards’ SCIAC Quadrangular Meet with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Whittier and Cal Lutheran on March 5.   His record-breaking throw in the discus was 39.70 meters, or 130 feet 3 inches.  The previous record mark was at 39.50 meters or 129-8 set in 1986 by Todd Hodgin.

The achievement was a culmination of his efforts which began as a freshman, when he got within 5 feet of the record.  “I knew at that point that breaking the record would be a realistic possibility for me,” he said.

Brousard suffers from StarGardt's Disease, which occurs in about 1 in 10,000 people.  StarGardt’s Disease effects the retina of the eye and is present in both Brousard’s eyes.  His vision problems started in first grade and progressively worsened until around 13 years of age.  “It was at that point I received prescription lenses,” he recalls.  “Even with the corrective lenses (contacts) which I still wear today, I have a visual acuity of 20/400, compared to the ideal vision of 20/20."

To be considered legally blind, an individual must be have vision no better than 20/200.  “Fortunately my vision will not worsen any more, and in fact, researchers are hard at work conducting stem cell research on my very disease.”

Brousard has not let the condition deter him.  A Broadcast Radio major at La Verne, he has served as a sports announcer on LVTV, KWST and Comcast Cable in addition to earning air time as DJ 'Buzzsaw’ on KULV.  Additionally he is a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity as well as a member of the Interfraternity Council (IFC) as the Programming/Marketing Chair.

“The staff here at La Verne has been extremely supportive of my vision, especially in the classroom,” he said.   “Often times, professors will provide me with large print handouts and homework upon my request.  Many faculty and staff members – specifically Mike Laponis and Shane Rodrigues, have helped me adapt my broadcasting style with my vision, and I can’t thank them enough for that.  Coach Widolff  has also supported my Team USA participation.” 

This season, Brousard enjoyed success during the Leopards’ opening meets and was confident he would have a legitimate shot of setting a new record, which occurred in the first conference meet.

“When they announced the official mark, I was absolutely ecstatic and felt extremely proud that I had finally gotten over the hump,” he said.   “Coach Widolff has done a great job mentoring me both on and off the track, and his continued support of my track endeavors is something I truly cherish.” Brousard also credits Leopard Strength & Conditioning Coach Matt Durant as another positive influence towards his record-breaking achievement.  “Coach Durant is another person who has made a profound impact on my improvement in the ring,” he said.  “I attribute my improved marks to a noticeable increase in my overall strength.”

In April, Brousard will represent the United States at the International Blind Sports Association (IBSA) World Championships in Turkey.  “I’m competing in the shot put and discus competitions and I am expecting nothing less than gold medals in both,” he said.  

Brousard has participated in other international events for the blind, including the IBSA Pan American Games two years ago, where he won gold medals in the shot put, discus and javelin.  “My ultimate goal is to continue track beyond my career here at La Verne by going to the Paralympic Games.”