Adapted sports for students with disabilities showcased at Rec Center

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STRAP worker Brooke Matula explains the rules of boccia ball to adaptive sports night attendees.
Photo Credit: Ashley Sanchez | Daily Texan Staff

Students with disabilities brought out their competitive side Tuesday night at the Recreational Sports Center to learn how to play adapted sports ranging from visually impaired baseball to wheelchair racing.

“No matter what your physical ability, there’s a way for you to stay active and get involved in sports,” said Emily Shryock, assistant director of Services for Students with Disabilities.

Shryock said there is a growing interest in adapted sports, both for disabled and non-disabled students, and the key to raising exposure is by providing as many opportunities as possible for students to get involved.

The Austin community provides a wide variety of sports, but Shryock said she hopes that UT as a school will soon be able to provide more inclusion by continuing to host events such as adapted sports night, while also introducing new clinics.

Shryock said some students’ biggest challenge is the mentality that there are no more options for them to be active, but she said she hopes events such as adapted sports night will continue to attract students.

“[Tonight] is a way to showcase people who have already found their opportunities as well as introduce new people who may not be aware of how people with disabilities can get involved,” Shryock said.

The Austin Blackhawks, a visually impaired baseball team based in Austin, tabled at the event to recruit UT students for its nine-time world championship team.

“I’d like to say that we have some of the most athletic and talented players out there,” head coach Jonathon Fleming said. “In some cases we may not be the most talented, but we work great as a team.”

Fleming said one of the club’s biggest goals is to get visually impaired students and adults outside and involved in exercising, as one of the biggest health problems faced after becoming blind is the sedentary lifestyle that can follow.

Zoe Colaluca, a communication sciences and disorders junior, said growing up in a wheelchair, she wasn’t exposed to sports in the same way as some of her peers, which affected how she viewed her athletic ability.

“[A lack of exposure] has definitely contributed to me feeling like I don’t want to go out and look for sports,” Colaluca said.

Throughout the night, Colaluca said she tried out wheelchair racing and visually impaired basketball. Colaluca said she also became interested in wheelchair racing and is now looking to get involved.