In Southwest Recreation Center, students can hear dozens of basketballs bouncing. About 15 students are sitting, trying to make three-pointers as their wheels are rolling up and down the court and the clock is ticking. The crowd goes wild as a three-pointer is finally shot. Shooting three-pointers from a sitting position is a rigorous skill. Taylor Becorest, student at UF, was the only one to accomplish this skill in this past wheelchair basketball tournament. Out of all participants, Becorest was the only student out of the 37 students who participated that is regularly in a wheelchair.
Adaptive and inclusive recreation was created seven years ago at RecSports as a way to offer a diverse array of sport programs that are available to everyone. The University of Florida’s Department of Recreational Sports has been participating and offering adaptive sports before pairing with the Disability Resource Center.
Catherine Cramp, senior associate director, said the program started when a student wanted to officiate at the competitive level. The only thing that was holding him back was his wheelchair.
Creating a way for students with disabilities to participate in sports they enjoy in an inclusive environment was the main goal for the facility.
Cramp said since adaptive and inclusive sports were introduced to the University of Florida they have been working on ways to enhance it.
The University of Florida’s Department of Recreational Sports offers wheelchair basketball, goal ball and sitting volley ball. However, these sports are not just offered for students with disabilities. Any student can participate in the tournaments that are planned as a way to bring awareness and inclusion to the campus.
In fall of 2017, Adam Richman, past Graduate Assistant for Competitive Sports, made a connection with Dug Jones and Carolyn Hansen, community advisors at Shands Rehab Hospital, to secure twelve wheelchairs for the facility.
They all worked to help fund the chairs that are now used for the wheelchair basketball event.
“Dug was able to obtain six basketball wheelchairs from a past connection, but wheels were not part of the deal,” Hansen said. “RecSports chipped in about half of the funding, so we could get 12 chairs all at once.”
Now RecSports is able to host wheelchair basketball events where students who are in wheelchairs and students who are not are able to participate in one sport all together.
Taylor Becorest, student wheelchair basketball player, is currently an official at RecSports.
“Adaptive sports are a lot of fun and it gives those of us in wheelchairs a level playing field with other athletes,” Becorest said. “Exercising is pretty difficult in a wheelchair and it gives others a chance to be active in a different way.”
Becorest said adaptive sports can also serve to show other people that people with disabilities can still participate in activities around campus.
Malik Audin, Program Assistant for Competitive Sports, participated in the wheelchair basketball tournament in November.
“My favorite part of the tournament was seeing Taylor Becorest play because he is really good,” Audin said. “His family came to watch as well, which was really nice to see fans in the stands.”
Scheduling, planning and marketing the events are some of the steps taken before each tournament begins.
Thomas Giles, Graduate Assistant for Competitive Sports, led the wheelchair basketball tournament in November.
Giles said once the tournament date arrives, he has to be on site to ensure that everything is running smoothly.
“Our events aim to break down barriers, reduce the stigma and increase awareness of the adaptive sport,” Giles said. “We hope that our patrons leave these events feeling that they have had fun, but also learned something as well!”
Sport Club Intern