Shepherd Center Recreational Sports Teams

A couple of weeks ago, Shepherd hosted a banquet at the Three Dollar Café in Buckhead, to honor sport and athletes with disabilities. Over dinner and conversation, Mike hufstetler, Manager of the Therapeutic Recreation Department, having seen the sports program grow from a couple of teams to many, kind of summed up the current developments with the various Shepherd sponsored teams for the course of this year. Bob Baird, full time Sports Teams Coordinator, also gave update on their dedication and growing effort to the programs which have come a long way from the 1978 single person part-time program funded out of pocket by Dr. Apple.

The first sports team began in 1984 when 3 disabled track athletes wanted to compete as a team, but recognized that there were no real opportunities existing in the community for them to compete. Shepherd agreed to help and the center began to sponsor athletes not knowing things would grow to here. In the beginning those that wanted to try things found little in way of programs or other athletes. Things were in such situation that frustration was found more often than success. At present things are still in a developmental cycle, but there is fast growing interest and slowing momentum to popular appeal.

Athletes exist promoting active life trying to drum up support for their activities. Hopefully soon disability sport will hit mainstream, drawing attention worldwide, especially now with such an abundance of young people having been involved with sports before injury. Currently, Shepherd has anywhere from 70-80 athletes, involved in 8 teams with 2 new possibilities coming (Sled Hockey and Hand Cycling). Supported by Shepherd's facilities, the gym offers an on site practice location for most of the teams. A weight room and pool are available to athletes for conditioning and training. Coaches are paid a stipend to help offset their efforts instead of just receiving that congratulatory pat on the back.

New sports and methods of funding are being sought and explored all the time. Mike and Bob just recently returned from Salt Lake City, Utah, where they were exploring the possibility of working with the United States Paralympic Committee to ensure further growth in the direction of Disability Sports. "Having the opportunity to participate in competitive sports has allowed many of our athletes to reach a level of competition and self-fulfillment that many never thought they would be able to reach again after sustaining injuries. The self-confidence learned through competitive sports carries over into every other aspect of the real world, that value is incalculable to people," said Mike Hufstetler on the impact of sport into people's lives.

Even though some of us have disabilities, the physical aspect of our lives does not have to be abandoned simply because some muscles no longer work and some things can no longer be done the same way. Quadriplegic's are limited from a lot of sports that require hand or full arm capacity, but with fencing I was able to tie the sword to my hand allowing grip. I had no idea that I would become so thoroughly entrenched in a sport or that it would have such a positive impact on my life.

I worked out with weights and did range of motion before becoming involved with fencing but never to the degree I do now. I had no idea there was a class of competition specifically oriented for quadriplegic's, where other international competitors with similar injuries and circumstance to my own, train hard to compete. Even though C-Category competition (Quad Division) has not evolved enough for it to be included in the Paralympics, it is included in The World Championships. With time and exposure I feel it safe to assume that competitors will learn from dedicated coaches that there is a role to play for people with all variety of disability.

We want things to do, to have choices. There are too many of us who will to endeavor, refusing to just sit around waiting for nothing. We must move and do in what ways we can. Opportunities exist, chances are out there for those that care to explore what world might have to offer. Sport even though thought predominately exercise for the body is also beneficial for developing focus, will, and discipline of mind and spirit. A person can be good at anything they spend time and attention doing. Becoming good at anything depends on making practice a way of life. Years of training make people adept at accomplishment in what they do.

You do what you can with what you got, that's the bottom line. What happens from here will set precedence for countless generations of kids and athletes who will seek outlet, new challenge to measure evolvement. Our natural state is to grow, take in lessons, have fun, develop skills, and create with focus. Life lessons us to maturity and isn't that the blessing, to have even 1 second to be and do in such a miracle world.

"Our athletes have been given the opportunity to travel and compete throughout the world in national and international events. Shepherd Center is committed to continuing quality sports programming for both the beginner and elite athlete" -Mike Hufstetler

Teams Practice times

Shepherd Sharks- swimming Mondays 6-8
Shepherd Spinners- track and field Unknown at this time
Shepherd Swords- fencing Wed 6-8/Sat. 10-2
Atlanta Rolling Hawks - basketball Tues/Thurs 6-9
Shepherd Skiers - waterskiing Unknown at this time
Shepherd Strikers - Power Soccer Mon/Fri 5-8
Shepherd Shooters - Rifelry Wed 5-7
Atlanta Rolling Thunder - Rugby Wed 7-10

The contact for all of the teams is Bob Baird 404-367-1287

April 17, 18, 19 Shepherd hosts Adventure Skills Workshop
at Camp Aska On Lake, Martin in Alabama
Activities include but are not limited to water skiing, jet skiing, ATV, Riflery, Skeet Shooting, Basketball, Archery, Quad Rugby, Tree and Wall climbing, fishing, etc…

If interested please call 404-350-7375
Fees are $150 per participant $140 for assistants or Family members