Liam Jarot

"Seeing Clearly"
College Writing 1, Dr. Jen Consilio

Larry Hemingway is an entrepreneur and optometrist practicing in Indianapolis at his business, IndyEyes. He currently resides in Indianapolis and has three daughters.

On a late fall evening in Munster, IN... ...Larry Hemingway prepared for the worst. It was a football game at home. The opposing team was a third of their way to the endzone. The crowd stared in one direction to the two teams on one end. The play began. The visiting quarterback threw the ball in the midst of a frenzy of players. As a fellow teammate was blocking the supposed catcher, Larry could see the ball enter his vision. He then intercepted the ball and ran tens of yards to his endzone and a touchdown. During this winning moment, Richard Hemingway, Larry’s father and a former football coach, was smiling in the crowd of cold and cheering fans. Having had the background of seeing hundreds of football games both on and off the field beside his sports-loving family, Larry’s passion for football could not be stronger at this moment. Despite Larry’s clear vision when it comes to football, he will soon develop a path for an aspiring career in optometry. Munster High School Football Field Larry Hemingway’s love of sports was inherited from his father, Richard Hemingway. As a kid, he would take in his dad’s practices whenever Larry’s mom, Nancy Hemingway, was busy teaching preschoolers at St. Thomas More. “He would play catch with my siblings and take me and [Larry’s brother] Tom to his football practices,” Larry began, projecting a nostalgic tone. As with all his brothers, Larry would later start his (school) sports career in Little League, and his dad wasn’t far behind in keeping him in check. Reminiscing on his coaching father, Larry said, “He was always giving directions, like sending help or tips, and he’d attend every game he could.” Larry went on to perform as a quarterback in football (pictured here), a guard in basketball, and a frequent shortstop in baseball, all at his local school, Munster High School. With his background in check, would Larry have considered playing professionally beyond high school? “You realize what your limits are when you get to college,” he responded, laughing, “I was a good punter, but I never had the size or speed for Division 1 or full scholarships.” That fact never let Larry down, as around a third of freshmen college students enter campus unfocused on their future career. Coming out of high school, Larry had a clear slate when it came to future career ideas. “I started taking biology classes as a freshman, and I loved my professors,” Larry informed me about his time at Wabash College. “I never considered sports medicine because I chose not to be a physician. That type of medicine wasn’t as big then as it is now.” What began Larry on his path to his current occupation was a fellow fraternity member, a sophomore by the name of Matt Bartlett, who was studying optometry, or a branch in the medical field specializing in the eyes and vision. Speaking about his friend to this day, Larry said, “His work sparked my interest in the optometry field, and I ended up modeling his work after him. He keeps a practice in south Indiana and we still talk to this day.” Being part of the same fraternity, Larry caught on to what Matt was studying, and found it intriguing. From Bartlett, Larry learned that around 1 in 2 people need either glasses or contact lenses in their life. Matt’s production came across as efficient, skilled, and plainspoken, which Larry strives to replicate in his work today. In addition to Bartlett, Larry also got his first glasses while at Wabash, from an optometrist who had a big practice in Munster. Having seen these two moments, Larry understood that if a person's vision decreases, they will have to go to someone to enhance it. Something about being that doctor to help people see clearer struck a chord with both of them. These two factors influenced Larry to set his course on optometry beginning his sophomore year. A biology degree at Wabash soon evolved into a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree at the Indiana University School of Optometry. Wabash College (Left), IU School of Optometry (Right) With his degrees to back him, Larry achieved part of his dream to become an optometrist. Having worked for another optometrist for 8 years, Larry started to ponder over an ambitious idea. “I wanted to start my own business practice, as I was somewhat successful in those previous 8 years, but when you come out of school you don’t know much about business, you just know how to be an eye doctor.” Larry humorously stated, “I kind of had no business or guidance other than myself.” As the first outgoing entrepreneur of the family, Larry faced an open, yet seemingly empty, road ahead of him. But just like the field of optometry, testing out what someone can or can’t see leads to a better vision for what comes next. What followed were periods of research and talking to either former friends or people he had never met before who were working around the same process as him. “One was a dentist who was starting his own business, one helped me in marketing, and the others were former friends from my previous two colleges who ended up working in business and sales,” Larry described, looking back on his crucial new friends. One obstacle became another when it came to the financial aspects of the business industry. “You have to take out loans to buy equipment and space, with location being critical. Computers and paperless software cost too much money and take time to learn and be efficient at it. Also, I didn’t keep up with insurance and billing as much as I should have,” Larry regrettably admitted. “In terms of staff, you have to be prepared to cover people who are not there or who need assistance. As a small business owner, you have to know every aspect of the business.” Larry’s vision for his business involved hard work and dedication, which may have proved critical in the end. Through the rough beginnings, trials, and tribulations, there was one aspect of Larry’s character that was critical to the creation of his first business, EyeQ Optometry (now known as IndyEyes), in the end; his leadership. “I played a lot of team sports, with me being the leader or captain for most of them,” Larry applied to his current job, “A successful business has to have all leaders working together. You have to support your workers and make sure they’re part of the team.” Larry also continues to have connections to the world of sports through a few of his clients. “I can get some clients who may need sports sunglasses or contacts which enhance their playing.” These moments remind Larry that he never really left sports, but took his own detour to practice a job that continues to intrigue him. His perception of what it takes to be a good player made him the optometrist he is today. Larry continues to find new challenges in front of him presently, but after 28 years of working in the field, he can always find the right way to tackle them. “My challenges are always trying to grow the business yet make enough money to pay the bills,” Larry details, “Human resource issues have also come up ever since the COVID-19 pandemic.” These can include drops in productivity or justifying pay-scales and benefits for employees. There may be times when Larry’s “vision” can seemingly start to decline. Regardless, like the many sports he used to play, staying confident and dedicated can guide you on a clear path to success. Larry Hemingway continues to practice in Indianapolis and loves his job, helping people see clearly every day.

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