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MONDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2014  12:55:37 PM

CYSS hosts annual Adaptive Sports Experience

Email   Print   Share By Sgt. Jordan Johnson, Sentinel Assistant Editor
June 25, 2013 | Sports
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Charles Armstead, a member of the Harker Heights Hustlers, speaks to the group of CYSS kids who filled the bleachers during the fourth annual Adaptive Sports Experience Friday at Abrams Physical Fitness Center. The ASE is part of the U.S. Paralympics’ Olympic Day Celebration. Daniel Cernero, Sentinel Sports Editor
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The Harker Heights Hustlers and the University of Texas at Arlington Movin’ Mavs battle for the ball at the start of a scrimmage Friday inside Abrams Physical Fitness Center. Daniel Cernero, Sentinel Sports Editor
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Israel Allen, 11, tries out the hand cycle on the Abrams Physical Fitness Center track Friday during the Adaptive Sports Experience, hosted by CYSS. Daniel Cernero, Sentinel Sports Editor
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Analeia Glover, 8, attempts to pull back the strings on a bow while being coached by Adam Henning, a member of the Harker Heights Hustlers, at the archery station during the Adaptive Sports Experience Friday at Abrams Physical Fitness Center. Daniel Cernero, Sentinel Sports Editor
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A group of CYSS kids move to the outdoor track at Abrams Physical Fitness Center to try out the hand cycles during the Adaptive Sports Experience Friday. Daniel Cernero, Sentinel Sports Editor
Child, Youth and School Services personnel hosted the fourth annual Adaptive Sports Experience as part of the U.S. Paralympics’ Olympic Day Celebration at Abrams Physical Fitness Center Friday.

What the organization wanted to accomplish was to celebrate the special day and let physical activities for people with disabilities be discovered, said Kristine Fernandez, sports director, CYSS.

“Our goal is to bring awareness to the world of adaptive sports, and it’s our way of celebrating the Olympic Day Celebration,” Fernandez said.

Highlights from the day included kids being able to talk with disabled athletes, participate in an adaptive sport clinic, and watch two wheelchair basketball teams who came to the Great Place to display their skills and abilities.

“The University of Texas at Arlington Movin’ Mavs will be here,” Fernandez said. “They are a wheelchair basketball team, and they are actually a ranked wheelchair basketball team, so we’re very excited to have them here. The Harker Heights Hustlers wheelchair basketball team will be with us as well.”

The athletes from both teams were excited to perform in front of the kids. Frank Adams, a player from the Hustlers, said the day was a great chance for kids to learn about wheelchair-based sports.

“They’re introducing the children, grade-school kids, about adaptive sports, where they adapt the ability for people with disabilities to play sports,” Adams said. “The one I’m in, wheelchair basketball, we have specialized wheelchairs. The tires are tilted outwards so they can turn on a dime and won’t fall over as quick. The chairs are specially built for adaptive sports. So, anybody with disabilities – standing, walking, stuff like that – they can at least get out there and perform and play the game. It’s a good way for people with disabilities to get out there and get some exercise and enjoy the game.”

Spreading the word about sports available to the disabled to kids is an important role for Adams, he said, because he wishes he had known about adaptive sports much sooner.

“The Harker Heights program has given me the ability to get out and play sports and be active,” Adams said. “When I was younger, I had polio, so I wasn’t really able to get around on two legs too well. I’ve been able to get out and participate in sports with the other players. It’s been great so far. I’ve met some nice guys on the team and everything. Too bad I didn’t hear about it earlier when I was younger. I could have participated a lot earlier.”

Besides playing in the basketball game, Adams also participated in a question-and-answer session with the assembled children. Talking to the kids was enjoyable, he said.

“The kids are pretty fun,” Adams said. “They all have lots of questions and have inquisitive minds. It’s fun to talk to them. They ask ‘What kind of chair?’ and ‘What kind of disabilities do you got?’ and ‘Is it like regular basketball?’

“We say, ‘Yup, it’s just like regular basketball. You use the same ball, same court, same net – we’re just in a chair, pushing ourselves around.’ They’ve been very good, great to talk to and so energetic out there.”

By showing the kids the opportunities available to them even if they are, or become, disabled, Adams accomplished his mission for the Adaptive Sports Experience.

“My goal was to come out and help support it,” Adams said. “I’m on the team, and I wanted to come out and show the kids that people with disabilities can still have fun, still be active in sports. I don’t mind coming out here and supporting the adaptive sports program that way, and trying to get some interest and show the kids that even if you have a disability, you are just like them. You go out and have fun and enjoy sports just like they do.”

Even though the day and event was geared toward enlightening children about adaptive sports, Adams welcomed everyone to come out to the Harker Heights Recreation Center.

“If they’re interested, come on out to Harker Heights, the rec center out there, adaptive sports program, and contact them,” Adams said. “Come on out and at least try it out. There’s no commitment or anything. Just come out, see if you like it, and see how it works for you.”

Due to Harker Heights proximity to Fort Hood, wounded veterans often stop by the city’s recreation center, Adams said.

“We do have a lot of veterans come through,” Adams said. “There’s the wounded warrior program on base, so we get a lot of participants come through. A lot of them from Fort Hood, they are there are for a while, and then they get out; they usually go back home to wherever they are from, so we don’t get a whole bunch, but we do have people here quite a bit.”

Retired Sgt. 1st Class Charles Armstead, a player for the Harker Heights Hustlers, is one of the veterans who participate in adaptive sports. Though the injury that caused him to be disabled was one of the most challenging times of his life, Armstead said adaptive sports helped him recover mentally.

“When I got injured, it was probably one of the hardest things that’s happened to me in my life,” Armstead said. “I’ve been on three tours to Iraq, I’ve been on countless hours of patrols and all this other stuff, but none of it compares to when I found out I was disabled. I thought I was a pretty good athlete at the time, so it really broke me down. I couldn’t run, I couldn’t jump, I couldn’t do anything that I used to do before, so what I had to do was pick myself up and find other means to get things done in a way I wanted to get them done.

“The adaptive sports program was one of those things that helped me get to where I’m at today. It has taught me how to be resilient, how you can overcome any obstacle or any hardships or triumphs that you may come across.”

Armstead urged everyone in attendance, especially the children, to handle hardships with the same positive attitude.

“I want to encourage you young men and women to do the same; be able to overcome any obstacle or any hurdle in your life,” Armstead said.

One of the young women in attendance, Kiara Evans, a 13-year-old who will be attending Shoemaker High School this fall, said the basketball game was her most enjoyable part of the day.

“My favorite part was watching them play basketball,” Evans said. “It was cool that even though they were disabled, they still played.”

While she spent the day having fun, cheering on the basketball teams and participating in the adaptive sports clinic, Evans said she also will take away a lot from the day.

“I felt really bad because I complain about small stuff, but they live without limbs. I’m spoiled,” Evans said. “I learned not to take life for granted.”
 
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