Profile: Running Without Barriers


Kelly Goodman

Max competing at Section 1 Championships

There are plenty of people that show that having a disability shouldn’t stop you from succeeding in a passion of yours. Max Goodman ‘22 is a perfect example of this. Max is on the autistic spectrum, which hinders his ability to focus and interact with people. However, this doesn’t stop him from being one of the best runners in John Jay Track and Field, and it certainly doesn’t stop him from being humble.

Max is quite possibly one of, if not the kindest soul I’ve ever met! I have known him for over 10 years, and he has become one of my good friends. He is sure to bring a smile to anyone he encounters. I had the pleasure of going over to his house to spend some time with him and interview him. 

As soon as I parked my car in his driveway, I saw him open the front door, with a big smile on his face. “Hi Harry!” were the first words that came out of his mouth after I shut my car door. Walking inside, I was immediately greeted by his Labrador Retriever named Daisy, whom Max has mentioned to me in the past. She is such a good girl and seemed to be happy to have a new friend. I was also greeted by Max’s mother, Kelly, and father, Shep, who is well known for being the manager of several famous artists, including American Authors. I’ve known him for years and still find him to be awesome!

Max and I set up in Shep’s recording area, consisting of an iMac along with a keyboard controller and a basic microphone and headphones, along with American Authors posters framed on the walls. Max had already written down his answers to the questions I was going to ask, which I sent to him a few days prior, and was very enthusiastic to share them.

“I started running for fun in 2012 in Rising Stars Running, but really started running at meets in 7th grade in Modified Cross Country,” explained Max. “I realized I was pretty good at it, so I was inspired to get faster and faster.” And indeed he did. This past February, Max was accepted to run the 1000 meter event (roughly .62 miles) at state qualifiers. This is a pretty big achievement, especially for a sophomore. 

“I picture myself winning and Coach Tom Nohilly taught us about visualization. I also set goals for myself.” The thing that people forget to do when thinking ahead is visualizing the ideal situation happening. According to the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Workbook, your brain and body can’t tell the difference between what’s really happening to you and what you’re just imagining. Athletes like Max use visualization to motivate themselves to finish on top. 

As I said prior, Max is on the autistic spectrum. He explained to me, “I had speech problems when I was young and I sometimes get distracted at school, but it also helps me in many ways. It makes me work hard.” He does not let autism get in the way of his track and field career. “I feel like I have no barriers at all.” 

After wrapping up the interview, Max, still full of energy and a gleaming smile, offered to introduce me to his two goats. I happily said yes. So we ran out to his backyard, Daisy close behind, and there they were. Pablo and Honey are quite the escape artists, so Max and I had to enter the pen quickly. The goats seemed to take no notice of me, nor had a desire to greet me, as when I tried to introduce myself and pet them, they casually walked away, as if to say “Bye Felicia.” Chaos struck when he and I decided to exit the pen. Pablo decided to seize the opportunity to run out with us. While Honey did not make it out, she hung out pretty close to the gate, leaving Max and me in a sticky situation. We first tried to lure Pablo back into the pen with some food. We were able to get him back in, but as we opened the gate to leave, Pablo managed to sneak around us and get out. We tried this several times, opening the gate enough for us to squeeze through, but Honey and Pablo still tried to make their way out, leading Max and me to abruptly close the gate. Daisy wasn’t much of a help. She just ran around and we told her profusely not to chase the goats. Eventually, Kelly came out to save us and get Pablo back into his pen.

After that fiasco, it was time for me to leave, but not before Max showed me what will become his car when he gets his permit, a Yellow Jeep. He also took an interest in my car, an Infiniti Sedan, and I showed him how I didn’t need to insert a key to start the ignition; it was done with the push of a button. He thought that was really cool. Finally, we said goodbye and I drove off, a bit saddened that the fun had to end so soon.

Max is such an awesome guy and a really big inspiration to many people. As for his legacy, Max had this to say. “My advice is to find the thing that you’re good at and CRUSH IT!!” This may seem blunt, but it does hold true to it. Max realized he was good at running and is now a top runner at John Jay High School. The future is bright for him!