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‘Since they didn’t understand me, they didn’t want to be friends.’

Brian Dushman, 16, is one of eight young men competing in the World Junior Frisbee Finals in Dallas this week. He attributes his enthusiasm for practicing the Frisbee to a speech impediment, which has prevented him from making friends. Brian lives with his stepfather and mother, Bob and Sharon Litwin, in Canoga Park.

I go to Canoga Park High School, and they have a thing called Hunter of the Week when someone does something special. There’s a marquee on the southwest of the school, and it says “Hunter of the Week,” and it has my name on it because of the Frisbee contest. I don’t know how many people have seen it, but at least it’s up there.

I got started playing Frisbee about three years ago. It takes a lot of time, lot of patience. It takes a while to get good.

In freestyle you try to make up new moves like nail delays when you spin it on your finger and try and do different moves. There’s one move which I think is my best, but it’s very complicated. I have it down, but not 100%. I’ve been doing that move for about two months already.

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To become a good freestyler, you have to be playing for a couple of years, practice a lot. I haven’t got to that mark yet. Practicing Frisbee is a challenge. I practice as much as possible--on weekends maybe five hours.

1986 was my first World Junior Frisbee contest, and last year I was runner-up in my region. This year I won my region, and I’m going to Dallas next week for the World Junior Frisbee Finals. We’ll be competing at the Cotton Bowl and at the State Fair.

You get to the contest itself and just try your best. Pressure really doesn’t bug me. I just try to put in my mind that I don’t see a crowd. In the Cotton Bowl I might get a little bit nervous, but if I’m doing good in the contest, then I’ll get more confident as time progresses.

My sister, Wendy, and I are going to have a demo during a PE class at school before I go to Dallas. That could be fun. In 1986 at Sea World, Florida, she got first overall in the World Junior Frisbee Finals. I was pretty impressed.

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I practice in the back yard and at a school down the street. Frisbee competition and practice take up my spare time, so I don’t get bored. I get bored a lot since I don’t have too many friends.

I had a speech problem before I started public school. At first people didn’t really understand me. Since they didn’t understand me, they didn’t want to be friends with me. As I got older, my speech became better. For some reason, people still don’t want to be friends with me, and I think my speech right now is at its best. I don’t know what to do.

If people only think about my speech problem, they don’t really care about the person. People think, “He has a speech problem. Why should we be friends with him? I can’t understand him.” I think people expect everybody to be normal, like everybody else.

A good relationship would be when people spend time with each other talking and do fun things with each other. If there is no fun stuff with another person, they don’t become friends. In my case, people don’t want to spend time with me so those people do not have me as a friend and I don’t know them as a friend. I think it’s mostly their loss that they don’t want me as a friend.

The person . . . you see at home is very talkative, somewhat humorous. At school you won’t see that. You’ll see a pretty shy boy who doesn’t talk a lot to other people. You’ll see a boy who’s pretty much sad and stays quiet most of the time.

I think it might be because people from the past have tried to leave me out as being friends. I think I became shy because of that, so I don’t talk to people that much.

I think a person should be open-minded and willing to accept friends, whether he has a speech problem or is a foreigner or what kind of stuff he does or she does. I think people should think of a person’s inside more than the outside. If a boy or girl goes for someone because of the outside, he or she will be dumped every time.


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