Dr. James Mastro
Being blind since birth has never kept James Mastro from visualizing and reaching his goals.
Mastro was a varsity wrestler for Augsburg College in Minneapolis, winning the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title in 1972. Shortly afterward, he turned his attention to the international styles of wrestling. In 1972, he qualified for the final Olympic Trials in both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling.
He placed in the top five at the Greco-Roman national championships three years straight, finishing third twice and fifth in 1976. Mastro again qualified for the Olympic Trials in both styles, finishing third in Greco and earning an alternate spot on the 1976 Olympic team.
He dominated competition in the United States Association for Blind Athletes National Championships winning eight gold medals between 1976 and 1987 and finishing second twice. He won freestyle wrestling gold medals in three Paralympics, in Toronto in 1976, in Arnheim, Holland in 1980 and in New York in 1984.
Wrestling, however, was not his only sport. Mastro has competed in the Paralympics seven times, winning 10 medals in four different sports: wrestling, judo, track and field, and goalball. In 1995, he was the World Judo Champion for the Blind. For his performance, he was honored as the United States Olympic Committee Blind Athlete of the Year. The next year, he was honored as the flag bearer for the Paralympics in Atlanta. He is also in the National Beep Baseball Hall of Fame.
Mastro was the first individual with a visual impairment to earn a Ph. D. in physical education in the United States. He is a tenured full professor of physical and professional education at Bemidji State University and has authored or co-authored 47 published articles and 26 presentations on adapted and developmental physical education.
Since 1970, Mastro has remained active outside of his competitive career, coaching wrestling, judo and track and working with junior high, high school and college student athletes, both abled and disabled.
Medal of Courage