BREAKING NEWS: UC Berkeley just started the nation’s first competitive college athletic team for individuals with a visual impairment. This is pretty big news. But you probably didn’t hear about it on your local TV news station nor did you read it in any papers because; it wasn’t there. The only spot I found reporting it is UC Berkeley themselves. You can read about it here: http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2014/09/22/new-athletic-team-breaks-barriers-for-the-disabled/
Posts Tagged 'sports'
It seems like yesterday when I was the “different” one. I was the kid who kept asking to play, the kid who kept screaming to let me onto the basketball court. I was the kid with one leg, the one who would make things harder on everyone else.
With the world of professional sports making news off the field than on it, I wanted to bring some semblance of happiness to my wheelchair sport world, that I know that I could probably use right now. As summer comes to an end, I so look forward, to the sport that I have been playing for 20 years.
Wheelchair rugby! Or Murderball, as it was apply coined by our neighbors to the north. I still remember my first day of rugby practice as a member of the Atlanta Rolling Thunder. I was about 27/28 and I had heard about rugby before but I had never seen it. I was too wrapped up in being a wheelchair basketball player, in which I would never start, because I was not that good.
However, once I saw rugby, I knew this was the sport for me. I just loved the contact of the sport. It is as close to playing football as I will get. The best part of being on the Atlanta team was that I a new guy on a team that had many veterans. Everyone was a veteran except for my co-worker, mentor, and friend, Bill Furbish or “Billy the Kid”, as I call him. No matter his age, Bill is always a kid at heart, seeking to get the best out of life. It was his leadership and direction that provided me a solid foundation for playing rugby and basically how to approach a life in wheelchair sports.
Although, I left the Atlanta team in 1997, I still see Bill playing for Atlanta from time to time. I don’t think he will ever retire since he co-founded the Atlanta team. Plus, I know he still loves to compete. I think it keeps him young at heart. It is because of his efforts and commitment to me that I have been able to play rugby for the past 20 years. Thank you, Bill.
I have another mentor that has been very instrumental in playing the sport of rugby. That is Bryan Kirkland. Bryan has been my teammate and more importantly my friend for the last 15 years. Bryan has been playing rugby for the past 20 years. He is a Hall of Fame Rugby Player. In my opinion he is one the All-time greatest athletes to ever play competitive wheelchair sports. His preparation, training and leadership are the fuel to his success. He is a big reason why my time with the Demolition has been filled with championships and Paralympic opportunities. To me, he is the ultimate leader and teammate. He always seems to set the bar high for all others to reach. I try and will still keep trying. Bryan, thanks for all your leadership and direction.
So, as I start a new rugby season, not knowing how it will go, I just know that I have had many successful years. My goal now is to provide the same leadership and direction that I have been given by others. This is what keeps me going. I know that there is still more to be accomplished. I take it as an honor and a privilege to play wheelchair rugby. It has provided me with so many competitive opportunities, social endeavors, and health benefits. Hopefully, it doesn’t end anytime soon. Now, isn’t this what sports is all about?
With the summer slowly falling into oblivion in which there are three months left in 2014 (where has the time gone), typically we leave our summer routine and develop another set for the fall. Unfortunately, there is a difference.
Robin Williams’ recent suicide has brought the topic of depression and mental health once again into the public sphere. Like Williams, many other comedians, both past and present, have suffered from depression and psychological demons. Indeed, while they appear bright and invincible onstage, behind closed doors many of these professional funnymen often struggle with self-loathing and the tragic spiral of self-destruction.
My last blog post discussed the plethora of benefits that swimming can have for people with physical and Intellectual disabilities. Indeed, the pool is particularly a popular haven during the summer. Many swimmers are seeking to go on to become fine swimmers at club, district, and national levels. One of the best ways of improving performance and excelling is to stick to an appropriate nutrition plan.
I will always have some impairment in my right hand. Bowel and bladder issues, which I’ll address down the road, continue to be a heady annoyance from time to time. I do not have trunk control, which would be REALLY handy for a lot of things. What I did gain, however, was an in-depth understanding of the bias in legislation, the “right way” (re: WRONG) to address/ignore a person with a disability, and social norms that WE constantly face but that were hidden to me before. Having seen the “in-group/out-group” bias from both perspectives helped me to put together a pretty unique worldview and eased communication with/between able-bodied (“ABs”) and functionally impaired individuals alike. Although encouraged by my progress when finally discharged from rehab, I couldn’t help but think… “Yeah, that’s all well and good…but now what?”
Although most people experience the sport of rowing on the Olympics, most of the Southern states of America do not know exactly what this competitive sport entails. Throughout my college career, I never expected to join a team, much less, a rowing team. I never thought I was athletic enough, I never thought I was competitive enough, and I never thought I would be able to find a sport that fit me. After playing violin for 12 years, I’m sure you can see why. However, upon my second year in college, I got recruited to be on the team. You would think that this is because the recruitment chair thought I was athletic, strong, had long legs, etc… but that certainly was not the case. Little did I know, I was being recruited for one of the most difficult and frustrating positions on a rowing team: the coxswain.
A physical disability refers to a limitation on a person’s physical functioning. These disabilities can cause a person to have many obstacles throughout a single day. Many people who have physical disabilities such as paraplegia believe that physical activity and recreational sports are not possible. This is where people are wrong.