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TOPIC: adaptive sports helps find new beginning

adaptive sports helps find new beginning 5 years 1 month ago #208

  • Adri
  • Adri's Avatar
When I remember the past I remember good times in the fire department when the biggest obstacle I had was raising a ladder without losing my gloves. OUCH! I remember being so fast on my feet around the hospital that I saw 2-3 times more patients every day compared to coworkers. Best of all, I remember graduate school and my days as a climatologist at NOAA. I was the first one in the office and the last one to leave. All those long hours paid off when I spoke at a national conference about my research. Soon people started calling me at home about my research and the “Adrienne effect” was named. Next thing I know, I wake up at 2am in the morning laying in a pool of blood. I haven't been to work since.

Ten years later, I am still looking to return to the work force. I still have all the same skills and leadership qualities. Along the way, I have acquired many new skills and new passions. It all started the day I found out I had a progressive form of muscle paralysis, an extremely rare condition that I rarely ever go into detail about. I remember the day I got my wheelchair. I left that hunk of steel in the car so I didn't have to look at it. Not being able to stand anymore, I gave in the next day and went to a wheelchair basketball event; quickly realized basketball wasn't for me. On day three, I went to a racquetball court to figure out how to play pickleball in a wheelchair. The fourth day came and I started playing table tennis. Eventually I started playing wheelchair rugby too.

Flash forward about one year later, I have friends calling me stating someone has proposed a park and want's to talk to me about helping make it inclusive.(www.dispatchnews.com/2015/04/30/all-can-...on-at-lake-kapowsin/) Today I lead the initiative to make para-pickleball a competitive sport. (www.theolympian.com/news/local/article31041666.html) I have hopes of being a leader nationally for inclusion projects including adaptive sports. Inclusion is one of those things that I feel comes with a personal sacrifice. There was a time when every week, someone got in my face yelling at me about something I did or didn't do. Then one day someone said, “if you wanna have a good game don't play with Adrienne.” This time I made it known to everyone watching or listening “that is hurtful.” Then she responded “Adrienne you are a shi*. You suck and you will always suck. Better get use to it now.” She tells me “you know,” and then I stopped her by stating “I don't care what you think, I only care what I think and I think I will get better.”

Soon a lot of people just started refusing to play with me.(www.seattletimes.com/opinion/its-time-to...tes-use-wheelchairs/) Turns out that was one of the best things for me and my game. Finally I began playing with people who gave me a chance at those shots that seemed impossible. Thereafter I started hanging on to those shots to get me through the next derogatory statement and condescending mannerism. Although I still had all my physical issues to deal with, it seemed it was the mental game that kept me from wondering if I should keep trying. In my sleep I dreamt about that shot I made. Then I started thinking about the next milestone shot. All of a sudden, I had something to look forward to. Soon I started even making friends on the court. Then my car engine blew up and all my competitive and paralympic dreams in table tennis and rugby were of the past. I thought I wouldn't even make it to pickleball anymore.

It has been about 6 months now and those few people who didn't refuse to play with me began giving me rides. I continue to play pickleball. Today when I enter a game, I hear comments like “you have skills.” “I'd rather play with you than against you.” After many trials and tribulations it seems my mission of inclusion is more readily being accepted.
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Today I feel like I have been reborn. I finally realized that what I was experiencing was the hardest part of letting go and starting over; finding my new beginning. Today I coach para-pickleball and look forward to traveling (still depending on rides) and spreading the impact of para-pickleball, adaptive sports and inclusion. I will never paint a rosy picture of what one can expect but I will advocate, whole heatedly, for those seeking their new beginning too.
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Our Mission

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---Obstacles we faced
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Catherine Gogel, Publisher

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