Do Something You Love - Kyle Abbate Profile


Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: May 11, 2010

Courtesy the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs

He managed his high school baseball team. Every July he celebrates his birthday by attending an Astros game in Houston. He hasn't missed a home football game since enrolling at A&M, and he's a member of TAMU Iron Spikes, a student organization that promotes service and ... you guessed it ... Aggie baseball. Given all of the above, you probably don't need us to tell you Kyle Abbate '11 is passionate about sports.

Not that his focus is limited to what happens on the playing field. Kyle, a sports management major from Houston, is also intrigued by what happens behind the scenes in major league sports, i.e., how teams are run on a daily basis. That kind of action intrigues him so much, he hopes to parlay a spring 2011 internship into a career behind the scenes, maybe working on marketing and sponsorships for a pro sports team. Thanks to his current internship, he's got something of a head start in that area.

"I'm taking a marketing class," he explains, "and I have an internship with an online sports advertising company, Northcutt Media, that connects with TexAgs and different college sports websites. Right now, I'm working on mybcs.com. I try to get businesses to be sponsors on the homepage, advertising and running promotions and stuff."

"You Can Always Find a Way to Do It"If you spend much time at A&M, you've probably seen Kyle driving around campus ... in his wheelchair. He was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that affects the muscles in all four of his limbs.
"I've got some motion," he points out. "I can type and write a bit. I type my own papers. It may take me a while, because I only use one finger." He smiles as he adds, "When I get introduced to people, they're kind of uncomfortable; they don't know whether to shake my hand or whatever. But I'm just like everybody else. I may look different, but on the inside I'm the same."

If you ask, Kyle will tell you his experience at Texas A&M has been a good one. He can come and go from his residence hall, Appelt, with the click of a button mounted on his seatbelt-two buttons, actually-one opens the outside door, the other the door to his room. The campus is fairly easy to navigate-not too hilly-although buildings without automatic door-openers can be problematic. Ditto elevators, depending on how high up the buttons are. Overall, coming to A&M has helped him become more independent and less afraid to ask for help if he needs it, which may not be as often as you think.
"I have people who help me get up in the morning and help with all the grooming stuff," he says. "I'm fine during the day. In class I get notes from my professors, or ask for a volunteer to take notes, and Disability Services takes care of all the tests. Then at night I have people who come help me eat and get in the shower. Other than that, I'm pretty functional." He pauses before continuing, "People shouldn't assume I need help all the time, because I can do things myself. But sometimes there may be something I can't do, so it's okay to ask. If I don't need help, I'll tell you; but if I do, that would be good."
Kyle's willingness to tackle challenges and his determination to do as much as possible on his own can be traced back to his upbringing. Far from trying to shelter him, parents Tom and Sue pushed him to try new things. Take Boy Scouts, for example.

"My dad was always there," he remembers. "We used to go backpacking and camping and stuff, taking the wheelchair up hills and cliffs and rocks. There was nothing we couldn't do. My mom is my best friend. They really stand behind me, tell me, ‘You can find a way to do that.' And they're always ahead of the game, researching things that will help me in the future."
A Close-Knit GroupAs important as family is to him, it's small wonder Kyle feels at home in Aggieland, where "you feel like you're part of one big family." The friends he has made in Iron Spikes personify that spirit.

"I got involved my freshman year," he says. "Your rookie year, you have to get to know all the guys, go to dinner with them or talk to them, and get them to sign a baseball. So, we're a very close-knit group; they'll be my friends forever. Joining was one of the best choices I made here."
In addition to performing extensive community service, promoting the Aggie spirit, and getting together socially, the Iron Spikes sponsor events in support of the Aggie baseball team. That, of course, brings us right back to where we started: Kyle's love of sports.
"You know," he muses, "I've been in sports management since I was a freshman. People will say to me, ‘I'm still in general studies, because I don't know what to do.' It's good to know what you want to do," he says with a smile. "To do something you love. That's what you should do."
In addition to serving as the webmaster for Iron Spikes, Kyle enjoys taking part in forums sponsored by Disability Services, where he talks to other Aggies about his disability and shares the challenges he's faced.

For more information on Texas A&M Iron Spikes, please visit:
http://studentactivities.tamu.edu/online/organization/OTU2NzQw/profile
Information on Disability Services can be found at http://disability.tamu.edu/.

Contributed by: Kathy DiSanto, Communications SpecialistOffice of the Vice President of Student Affairs
Photo by:Bryce Swihart, Graphic DesignerDepartment of Information Technology