Aug 2020 Baltimore Sun

Maggie StalterMaryvale graduate Maggie Stalter, who was diagnosed with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss when she was 10 months old, has been an inspiration to others

Whatever the sport she played in her four years at Maryvale Prep, and any other endeavour in life she takes on, recent graduate Maggie Stalter likes to set goals. Diagnosed with severe to profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss when she was 10 months old, the 18-year-old Towson resident has always understood that she has to work harder than others to reach them. After the extra work is put in and her goals are achieved, her greatest satisfaction comes from the inspiration she provides to others. “It feels good because all I ever want is for somebody to see that if I can do it, then everybody around me can do it, too. It makes me feel a part of something special,” she said.

Stalter played five varsity sports at Maryvale since her freshman year – first going from field hockey to basketball to lacrosse and later picking up outdoor track and cross country. Running turned out to be her athletic calling.

Maggie SMaggie Stalter, 18, a recent Maryvale grad from Towson, enjoyed a five-sport career but discovered that the one she found last, cross country, was her passion

She first participated in outdoor track in her junior year and further hit her stride for the cross country team last fall as a senior. Stalter, who finished with a cumulative 3.5 GPA, plans to continue her running career at Ursinus College. “I love how the sport focuses both on yourself and also your teammates,” she said. “The goals you have in cross country and track, it’s one of the best things because it allows you to see how tough you are, what your mindset is like, if you can really push through all the obstacles.”

To compensate for her hearing loss, Stalter has had cochlear implants since early childhood. The electronic devices provide her with a modified sense of sound that she describes as computerised.

Throughout her youth, her parents — Kyle and Maureen — always told her that, while she might have to put in more time to achieve what she wants, there wasn’t anything she couldn’t do.

Proving them correct has been a constant. Stalter says that lip reading, which supplements what she hears through the implants, and connecting with teachers and classmates to track back on material that she didn’t get the first time can be exhausting.

Sports has been a rewarding release, with running topping the list. “When I’m out of school and get on a field, it feels so much easier because I feel my brain is working less hard because I’m focused on my mindset and everything else,” she said. Her favourite part about running is finding out what she’s capable of and having the chance to celebrate it with teammates. That opportunity came after the Lions’ cross country team captured the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland championship last fall, defeating second-place Notre Dame Prep by a 33-52 margin. For Stalter, who didn’t decide she would run cross country until two weeks before the first practice, it was a season-long reward as she worked her way up from the junior varsity ranks to making the varsity’s top seven runners by the time the championship meet rolled around.

Throughout the season, coach Jason Miller, who communicated with Stalter through a microphone-like device, used hand signals and made sure she stood up front during team talks, saw a refreshing approach from Salter that proved beneficial for her while providing a fine example for teammates. “She just got better every single race and before you know it, she was fighting for a top-seven position on the cross country championship roster,” Miller said. “She was our No. 7 runner at championships and helped contribute to our team title. It’s just her determination; this sport is definitely for her. She was a blessing to coach.”

Fellow recent graduate Rachel Thomas, the Lions captain and top runner, called Stalter her unofficial co-captain for the positive impact she had on the team. It came through her encouraging words (particularly at the team dinner the night before the championship meet, when she gave a heartfelt speech) and the hard work she consistently put in to improve. “I never saw anybody work harder than Maggie, and every time she ran the mile, she dropped her time. It’s insane,” Thomas said. “She would tell me that she looks up to me, but I truly look up to her. Our teammates would always say when they saw Maggie cheering them on, they knew we all had to run harder. She just a very motivating and inspiring person.”

After the season, Stalter received the Coach’s Award for her improvement, her enthusiasm and the support she gave teammates. She said that went both ways as her teammates quickly became like family.

MaggieMaryvale graduate Maggie Stalter plans to study health and exercise physiology and run cross country at Ursinus

“They do a lot for me — each and every one of them are role models to me,” she said. “They inspire me and I just do what I can to give back to them because they helped me a lot. They helped me realise what I am capable of and don’t let me doubt myself. So what I get from them, I try to return as much support as I can back.” Following the lead of her own role model, gold medal-winning Paralympic swimmer Becca Meyers from Timonium — who also has cochlear implants — Stalter has that constant aim on making a positive impact. “She’ll tell you she wants people to look up to her and have them think: ‘If I can do it, they can do it.’ So her drive is not only for herself, but for other people, which I find amazing with her,” said her mother, Maureen.

Stalter has a mix of excitement and understandable nerves as her first college year approaches with plans to study health and exercise physiology at Ursinus. As of now, the fall cross country season is suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, but there’s a chance the team might have some intrasquad meets. She likes the fit at the school and on the team, saying the coaching staff has been welcoming and has accommodated her auditory needs while providing support as she continues to learn about a sport that’s relatively new to her. She also said she felt the team atmosphere was great. “The biggest thing for me going to college is the independence. I’ve always had my family and friends who have been there for me and now I have to do things without them,” she said. If Stalter has her way, that great team atmosphere will become that much greater upon her arrival.

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