Jackson-area boys golf regional preview: Jackson Northwest’s Michael Kanalas overcomes life’s challenges to succeed on golf course

Jackson-area boys golf regional preview: Jackson Northwest’s Michael Kanalas overcomes life’s challenges to succeed on …

, June 03, 2013 4:30 p.m.
JACKSON, MI – Michael Kanalas had big plans of making a name for himself through the sport of football and baseball.
But sometimes life can throw you a curveball, and in a matter of months, that curveball forced the Jackson Northwest High School senior to watch his football and baseball careers taken away from him.
It was a long road that has brought Kanalas to this weekend, when he will join teammate Tyler Seamans on Friday at Marshall Country Club for the Division 2 high school boys golf regional.
Several years ago, the golf course was not where Kanalas saw himself competing at the high school level. But with football and baseball no longer options, he had few athletic choices left.
First, it was football. A right knee injury suffered during eighth-grade football practice forced Kanalas to undergo reconstructive surgery, taking away his shot at ever strapping on pads again.
During his recovery from knee surgery, Kanalas fell down a stairwell at his home while walking on crutches, snapping his right foot and taking away his shot at baseball.
With the likelihood of never playing baseball or football again, he looked to his father, Tom Kanalas, for advice.
“As his father and biggest fan, I gave him the ultimatum or challenge that he must get back on the horse and try out for either baseball or for golf,” Tom Kanalas said. “I was secretly hoping that he would select golf, as there was a lot less risk of injury.”
Michael went out for the Jackson Northwest varsity golf team as a freshman and instantly made an impact.
In only his freshman year, Kanalas earned a varsity letter. He went on to earn academic all-conference three years in a row and was the No. 1 player for the Mounties as a junior.
Everything was moving along smoothly for Kanalas as his senior season of golf was approaching. Once again, Kanalas’ life took another turn.
While on a trip to Hilton Head, S.C., with his parents and friends, Kanalas became sick. Following a trip to the hospital, Kanalas was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, a disease that his 12-year old brother, Matthew, has dealt with since the age of 5.
“I just wondered in my head how this was going to change my life as I was laying in the hospital bed,” Kanalas said. “I honestly didn’t even feel like I changed, and I felt like the same person I had been for the past 17 years of my life. But I knew that somehow this was definitely going to alter my life, I just had no idea if it was going to be for the better or the worse.”
Rather than giving in to his diagnosis, Kanalas picked up right where he left off in his senior season.
He holds an 18-hole average of 88 in tournaments this year and a nine-hole average of 40.

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