HARRISONBURG, Va.—Last weekend the first Adapted Sports Day took place at James Madison University. JMU Athletics hosted the group during a home men’s soccer contest and provided an opportunity for an on-field skill demonstration of sport participation for disabled athletes.
Kinesiology professor Thomas Moran and sport and recreation management professor Joshua Pate designed the event to empower students with disabilities through sport. Middle and high school aged students were invited to participate.
On Friday, Sept. 27, 19 participants and their families arrived at JMU to watch the men’s soccer game against Furman University. At halftime, the guests played an adapted game of soccer to increase awareness of the sport. Following the game, the students with the Adapted Sports program were invited to a meet and greet with the men’s soccer players. Saturday was spent at University Park working on soccer skills, scrimmages, talking with professors and representatives of the Office of Disability Services or touring campus.
“There are different ways to talk about diversity,” Pate said. “For us we believe ability needs to be in the discussion. By targeting people that could potentially be JMU students, we are increasing the likelihood of having a more diverse campus in the future.”
Adapted Sports Day was funded through an Innovative Diversity Efforts Awards grant awarded by the university president’s office. Another Adapted Sports Day will take place in the spring and will focus on wheelchair basketball. Moran and Pate hope their event will show people that physical limitations do not have to be considered a handicap.