Pittsburgh Team Wins Big at National Junior Disability Championship

Sep 07, 2013
Tagged with: Pittsburgh Team Wins Big at National Junior Disability Championship

It’s strange for me to write this from the third person perspective, since I had the pleasure of being involved in these events in the first person.  So forgive me for that in advance as I share with you about some amazing children I have the pleasure of knowing.

From July 6th to the 13th, youth from Strong as Steel Adaptive Sports attended the National Junior Disability Championships (NJDC) in Rochester MN.  Darrion Allensworth, (11-years-old) and Trent Clayton, (10-years-old) both from the Pittsburgh, PA area were joined by Margaret Beaudoin of Michigan, all three of whom competed for the Western PA based adaptive sports team.

NJDC is an event sponsored by Wheelchair and Ambulatory Sports USA and affiliated with USA Paralympics.  Many current paralympians got their start competing at NJDC. According to Jeff Gorman, “Deb Armento, chairperson of the NJDC, noted that 35 of the 53 members of the U.S. Paralympic track and field team had competed in the NJDC.”

Wheelchair and ambulatory athletes with a range of disabilities competed in Rochester, including those affected by visual impairment, limb amputation, cerebral palsy, dwarfism, and spinal cord injury. NJDC is an elite competition and athletes must qualify at a regional event in order to compete.  While NJDC is a competition for athletes with disabilities, their talent as athletes is the focus.

Trent competed in archery, swimming, and track and field events.  This was his third time qualifying for and competing at NJDC.  He won a total of 12 gold medals, and broke a national record in the discus and an NJDC record in the shot put. Darrion participated in swimming and field events in Rochester at his first NJDC.  He won three swimming gold medals in the 25 meter and 50 meter freestyle and the 25 meter backstroke and silver in the 50 meter backstroke.  In the field events, Darrion had person bests in shot put, discus, and javelin, winning silver in all three.  Last but certainly not least, Margaret broke a national record in the javelin.

On top of the individual success of the athletes, Strong as Steel Adaptive Sports received an award for 1st place for medium sized teams thanks to the hard work, perseverance and determination of Darrion, Margaret, and Trent.  As the co-founder and coach of the team, I can share with you that we focus on personal bests, and encourage each athlete’s personal growth and progress. Winning awards is fantastic and exciting, but seeing these kids go faster, throw farther, jump longer, shoot better than they ever have before is even more thrilling for this coach!

How does coaching effect you? Is there a difference in coaching kids with and without disabilities?

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Dr. Darla Clayton, Psy. D.. The Mobility Resource contributed to this article.

Author: Chris Miller