Jared Ryan, the first disabled adapted student athlete at Auburn, started the wheelchair tennis team in 2009. The program quickly grew to include a wheelchair basketball team, making Auburn one of 13 universities with a competitive wheelchair basketball team. Any student with a permanent lower body disability is welcome to join the competitive teams.
After their rapid growth, there became a need for outside support, resulting in the formation of the adaptive recreation and athletics club, said Rob Taylor, head coach of the wheelchair basketball team and advisor of the club.
With the mission to support Auburn’s Adapted Athletics teams, the group assists with running events, selling merchandise, creating media and anything else the teams may need.
“It's a lot of stuff that really helps the team that seems more behind the scenes,” said Taylor. “[For] home tennis matches... having volunteers come out and help shag balls or keep points or help with water, stuff like that is always important.”
In the past, the club has collaborated with other sports across campus to organize charity events, such as sock drives, and raise awareness for their cause.
“In the past we've had some swimmers that have come out… and participated with us in practice,” said Taylor. “They jumped in a wheelchair and we put them through a wheelchair basketball conditioning workout.”
“Our program is definitely growing and our team is definitely getting better and better every year,” said Sophie Livaudais, junior in special education as well as president and social media manager of the club.
Livadais hopes that the club will find people who want to volunteer while learning more about adaptive sports.
This year, the wheelchair basketball team will be competing in their first home tournament on Oct. 16th. Taylor hopes people will come watch and see classic sports played in a different way they might not be used to.
In the future, Taylor aims to start adapted soccer and golf teams, or any other sport students may want. “We're very open to supporting the students in whatever sport they want to try.”
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Diane Pham, freshman in industrial engineering, is a news writer at The Plainsman.