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The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) has a long history of involvement in adaptive sports. In 1974, the school started its first wheelchair basketball team, the Movin’ Mavs, who went on to win seven national titles.
However, until recently most of the adaptive sports at the school were only available to manual wheelchair users. But now, thanks in large part to UTA graduate Miles Shaffer, several sports have opened up to power wheelchair users, specifically hockey, soccer and boccia. “Having more opportunities like this pushes us further as a society toward equality,” said Shaffer.
Shaffer is himself a power wheelchair user who lives with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy. He started UTA’s first power wheelchair hockey team, which he dubbed the Motor Mavs. “Power hockey”, as it’s known, has the same basic rules as street hockey. Players either hold their hockey stick, or have it taped to their wheelchair.
On Saturday, July 19th, UTA held an adaptive sports clinic, giving disabled people from the area an opportunity to try several different sports. Steven Schulz, an avid power wheelchair soccer player, was able to try power hockey for the first time. He enjoyed the clinic’s competitive atmosphere, and the fact that no one would simply let him win. He stated, “My biggest pet peeve is people feeling sorry for me. [Here] you can win or lose.”
UTA has also been increasing the sports opportunities for women with disabilities. It recently rebooted a women’s wheelchair tennis program, and last year started its first women’s wheelchair basketball team.
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