Speed skater Michael Hubbs has a great story to tell, and part of that story is how he tells it. Hubbs is deaf, and he spent Tuesday morning sharing his story with deaf students at Vanston Middle School in Mesquite, where he went to school.
"I wanted to share with them - and a lot of them don't have deaf parents - and tell them, You need to focus," said Hubbs through a translator. "I want to help you achieve your dreams."
"Some of them say, Deaf can't; I'm deaf, I can't," said deaf educator Kay Gustafson. "Don't ever say that. The only thing you can't do as well as someone else is hear. But anything else you can do, and Michael is a living example of that right now."
Hubbs lives in Utah now and is training to become an Olympic-level speed skater. The path from Mesquite, Texas, to Salt Lake City is one that included a lot of problems in between.
"I was in a really abusive situation with my father," Hubbs told the class of 7th- and 8th-grade deaf students. "I got involved with drugs. I was involved with fighting many times. Sometimes there were incidents with the police. I've been to jail several times."
When Hubbs was 21 years old, his life changed.
"Jesus Christ. He saved my life," said Hubbs. "I decided to focus on my dreams, my passions. Just follow my dreams."
Hubbs has only been speed skating since October. Before that, he was a world class in-line skater. And while the two sports look a lot alike, they're not.
Talking first about in-line skating, Hubbs said, "Really it's pretty easy; technique is not that important - you're moving from side to side. And then your shoulders can switch, doesn't matter. But on ice, it has to be perfect, your body cannot be moving. Your hips have to be at the same level, your shoulders."
Hubbs works hard to make up for this difference between skating styles, telling the kids that he practices for six to eight hours every day. In response, one student responded by saying, "Sounds like a pain in the butt" to which everyone laughed.
But Hubbs made his point, that it is possible to achieve your dream through hard work. That's the main theme of Hubbs' story. If all goes as planned, his story will include a chapter about the 2014 Winter Olympics.