The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

GV Recreation and Wellness hosts adaptive intramural sports, increases accessibility for disabled students

Courtesy | GVSU

Grand Valley State University’s Recreation and Wellness program offers several adaptive intramural sports programs where disabled students can enjoy team sports by playing various adaptive versions. The programs are open to all students who want to participate.

Recreation and Wellness will be holding various adaptive sport events throughout the winter semester. The range of sports includes wheelchair basketball, football, tennis and goalball. Mitch Eastlick, the assistant director of Recreation and Wellness at GVSU, said the program offers an opportunity to engage the entire GVSU community. 

“Inclusion is one of our core values we are trying to create. (We want to create) experiences that are accessible and adaptive and welcoming for everything. We thought this was one way we could do that,” Eastlick said. 

The sports programs are a recent addition to Recreation and Wellness. The events began in the spring of 2023, and  in the fall of 2023 the program had 35 participants. Eastlick said many able-bodied students participate in the events to learn how to use a wheelchair and gain perspective of what it’s like. They emphasize that anyone can join the events and hope for it to be an environment full of excitement and learning for students.

Adaptive Sports Supervisors Olivia Driscoll and Samantha LaMantia hope to bring in more participants to the program and make it more well-known within the GVSU community. 

“For me, these events mean that we are making a difference,” LaMantia said. “Seeing these events happen and having people get excited to come and grow our program makes me feel excited about the future for adaptive sports at GV. I feel really passionate about being inclusive to everyone, and this does that, in a small way.”

A popular adaptive sport they host is goalball, which is a game designed specifically for athletes with visual impairments. The main objective of the game is to throw a ball, using a motion similar to a bowling throw, into the opponent’s net. At the same time, the opposing team’s players try to block the ball with their bodies. Adaptive sports partnered with the Michigan Blind Athletic Association for one of their goalball events.

Eastlick said having adaptive sports at GVSU helps to enhance and expand learning experiences.

“Our whole idea is that this is an educational institution, so there’s education in anything that you’re going to get,” Eastlick said. “You’re going to get communication by participating in an event like intramural sports, specifically, our adaptive sports.”

Eastlick said the adaptive sports events have helped him gain a new perspective on how sports can be made accessible for everyone. 

“For me, I get a whole different perspective on how it is to be able to (play adaptive sports). There is a way you can do this and there are rules set up so that it’s no different than basketball. There are ways that you can adapt to any of these sports,” Eastlick said.

Eastlick also hopes to expand adaptive sports to a new level by making it a division sport and not just an intramural sport. For now, adaptive sports are still in the beginning phase.

“Looking back, we were hopeful that we could bring some excitement and fun towards members of our community through something that not a lot of people get the chance to participate in,” LaMantia said.

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