By Ahkeel Whitehead (SMBA ’19) and Ryan Lieu (SMBA ’19)
In the 2016-2017 academic year, as seniors at SDSU, the two of us got involved with a student organization at San Diego State University called Aztec Adaptive Sports. Their purpose is to ensure that students of all levels of ability have access to fitness and athletic programming, from recreational to elite level, at San Diego State University. About one dozen collegiate adaptive sports programs exist in the United States, but not one of those programs is located in the state of California. Aztec Adaptive Sports is working towards introducing the first college-level adaptive sports program in California.
With the guidance of Dr. Antoinette Domingo, the faculty advisor for Aztec Adaptive Sports, we have transitioned from active members to Directors of this organization. We are currently a part of the Sports MBA class of 2019 cohort, and beyond our coursework, we work hard to continue building the presence of adaptive sports on campus. Our first endeavor after stepping into our new roles was to work with the CEO of ABC Medical, Keith Jones, to host the Aztec Adaptive Sports Showcase.
The purpose of our Showcase was to raise awareness about the potential impact a collegiate adapted athletics program could have on SDSU and the San Diego community at large. The event was divided into two days; January 26th featured a wheelchair dance performance by the Rollettes followed by a presentation by 13 time Paralympic medalist, Dave Kiley. Day one concluded with the screening of the award-winning documentary “The Rebound,” which followed the lives of three wheelchair basketball athletes on their way to a national championship in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.
(Back Row: Aztec Adaptive Sports Officers, Front Row from l to r: Morgan, Dave Kiley, Samantha, and Edna)
On Saturday January 27th , the Showcase moved to Peterson Gym and featured high-level competition by elite athletes competing in sitting volleyball, wheelchair tennis, and wheelchair basketball. The wheelchair basketball demonstration included members of the ABC Medical All-Star team, comprised of former University of Alabama Women’s Wheelchair Basketball players who have won five national championships since 2009.
(Above: ABC Medical’s Women’s All-Star Wheelchair Basketball team with Keith Jones) PC: Abraham Arredondo
(CAF Sitting Volleyball team athlete, Patrick Young) PC: Abraham Arredondo
The list of notable athletes that participated in the event includes:
● Katie Holloway: 3x Paralympic medalist, 3x Paralympian, women’s sitting volleyball
● Bethany Zummo: 1x Paralympic medalist, 1x Paralympian, women’s sitting volleyball
● Steve Baldwin: 2x Paralympian, wheelchair tennis
● Anthony Lara: 4x Paralympian, wheelchair tennis
● Lex Gillette: 4x Paralympic medalist, 4x Paralympian, WR holder in Long Jump (T11), Track and Field
● Nick Rogers: 1x Paralympian, Track and Field
(Congresswoman Susan Davis, 53rd District) PC: Abraham Arredondo
The event was attended by Congresswoman Susan Davis of the 53rd district, who addressed the attendees. We also heard from Candace Cable, who was recently appointed as the Vice Chair of the bid for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Many dignitaries from San Diego State University’s administration also attended the event, including Interim SDSU President Sally Roush, Dean Larry Verity of the College of Health and Human Services, and Dean Randy Timm of Associated Students.
(Left to Right: Ryan Lieu (SMBA ’19), Dr. Antoinette Domingo, Dean Larry Verity, Interim President Sally Roush, Ahkeel Whitehead (SMBA ’19) and Keith Jones) PC: Abraham Arredondo
Stay tuned for the next Aztec Adaptive Sports event as we continue to pave the way for California’s first collegiate adapted athletics program.