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ISU students play wheelchair basketball during the fifth annual Adaptapalooza.

ISU students play wheelchair basketball during the fifth annual Adaptapalooza.

Adaptapalooza opens eyes, offers students opportunity to play adaptive sports

“Your excuse is invalid” is Paralympian Ashley Green’s motto and was also the theme of this year’s Adaptapalooza.

Green made a special appearance at the annual event, which was held February 27 in the Student Fitness Center. For the fifth consecutive year, Campus Recreation and therapeutic recreation students offered Illinois State students the chance to play adapted sports and learn about the opportunities available in sport and recreation for people with physical disabilities.

In 2009, Green was prepared to play volleyball at the University of Illinois when a car accident changed her life forever. With severe damage to her right ankle, Green had to undergo eight different surgeries. Because each one of the surgeries was unsuccessful, Green made the hardest decision she has ever had to make. She decided to have her right leg amputated from the knee down.

Paralympian Ashley Green shows ISU students how to play sitting volleyball.

Paralympian Ashley Green shows ISU students how to play sitting volleyball.

However, her passion for volleyball never died. Green went on to become a member of the Team USA A2 Paralympic sitting volleyball team. She plans to get a prosthetic leg and become a member of the Team USA A1 Paralympic sitting volleyball team in 2020.

“I’m also going to be starting to train for the Paralympic beach sand volleyball team soon. I actually have another surgery that I have to recover from. Once I recover from that, I’ll be playing,” said Green.

Green attended Adaptapalooza to play sitting volleyball with participants and inspire them to follow their dreams no matter what.

This year’s event featured wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, goalball, and adaptive climbing, said senior Jessica Leider, one of the therapeutic recreation students who organized the event. “It’s great because any sport can be adapted.”

School of Kinesiology and Recreation Professor Sherri Hildebrand brought Adaptapalooza to campus. As an advocate for people with disabilities, Hildebrand’s mission was to create an event that could offer more opportunities for people with physical disabilities to participate in.

“Whether the students that come to participate are therapeutic recreation students or not, it’s imperative that people understand that people with physical disabilities want and deserve to participate in recreation,” said Hildebrand. “These particular sports that we’re offering today are all inclusive, so you don’t have to have a disability to play.”

Hildebrand and her therapeutic recreation students were pleased with the turnout at this year’s Adaptapalooza, which drew about 100 Illinois State students.

ISU students tried adaptive climbing during Adaptapalooza.

ISU students tried adaptive climbing during Adaptapalooza.

“This is my first Adaptapalooza,” said Tyler Carlborg, a senior therapeutic recreation major. “It’s nice to see a lot of people coming here to learn about the adaptability of a bunch of different sports. Adaptapalooza is a great way for students to come out and learn about sports like wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.”

By putting their abilities to the test, able-bodied participants had eye-opening experiences that altered their views on sports overall.

“Wheelchair basketball is way more difficult than people make it out to be,” said Zay Latham, a junior recreation management major. “Sitting volleyball is faster paced than regular volleyball because you have to do two things simultaneously with the same limbs. That aspect makes it that much more competitive.”

Hildebrand and her students encouraged every student to become involved with Adaptapalooza no matter what their major is.

“Students from anywhere on campus can get involved with Adaptapalooza by swiping their ID and playing adapted sports,” Hildebrand said.

To learn more about Adaptapalooza and how to get involved in the annual event, email Sherri Hildebrand.

Jessica Xiques can be reached at jmxique@IllinoisState.edu.

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