Evangeline Colarossi—Staff Writer
The Dordt Rec Center and All Seasons Center were the stomping grounds for over a dozen adaptive athletes last weekend. The athletes participated in four different athletic events over the course of two days and hope to continue to do so.
Friday evening found nine athletes participating in the track and field events. Saturday, the number increased to fifteen for swimming, dance, and sled hockey. The participants ranged from ages three to nineteen. The groups’ twenty-five-year-old coach, Preston Hoebelheinrich, also participated in many of the events with the students.
The athletes who use wheelchairs had the chance to try racing chairs and learned how to turn track corners by using the compensator, a function on the chair. They were taught how to get the biggest push off the wheels to go the fastest. In field events, the athletes threw a javelin, shot put, and softball throw.
Swimming ranged from learning to blow bubbles and dive under the water for the beginners, to more refined techniques and diving for the more advanced swimmers.
The Dordt Dance Team led the athletes in a mixture of stretches, sideline routines, and Dordt chants. The athletes attended the Dordt football game and joined the dance team on the sideline during halftime to perform for the spectators.
Saturday evening wound up the event with the athletes on the ice. They were fitted with sleds and taught how to use their hockey sticks to push the sled along while hitting the hockey puck. They did drills in and out of cones to work on turning the sleds and learned how to get back up if they tipped over.
Cheryl Horstman and Joni Roorda were two of the coordinators behind the event. As parents of adaptive athletes, they had been discussing sports for several years. Several families in their group travel to Minneapolis or Omaha weekly to participate in adaptive track or wheelchair basketball. They wanted to see the amount of local interest for getting their own teams together.
In just two months, the group planned this clinic so adaptive athletes could try out a variety of sports all in one weekend.
“Our mission is to encourage and strengthen athletes of all abilities,” said Horstman. “We want to make sports accessible for everyone.”
The event included the local families, the Dordt track team, dance team, several pre-physical therapy students, Sioux Center Hockey association, and several members of the Tornadoes Hockey team, along with a group from the Briar Cliff physical therapy program.
This was the first time for this event to occur, but the group aims to make it an annual event. The formation of an adaptive athlete track team is also in progress. The team hopes to qualify for the Adaptive Sports USA Junior Nationals, which will be held in Minnesota in July 2019. They are also in the process of working with USA Sled Hockey to obtain a grant for sleds to form a sled hockey team.