Are you mourning the end of the Paralympics? Are you in need of a sports fix? Look no further than this blog post by Ingrid Floyd, author of Opening the Gate: Stories and Activities about Athletes with Disabilities, a collection of interviews by Floyd with athletes. While written for a middle school audience, the book is likely to appeal to all age groups. We hope you enjoy Floyd’s blog post, below!
What I hope you’ll enjoy most about my book is that it doesn’t focus solely on sport. In my interviews with athletes, they share some of the initial obstacles they faced in pursuing their athletic dreams, and how they overcame them.
Nick Taylor, a gold medalist Paralympian tennis player, shows you how he realized all the hard work he did as a teenager paid off big time later in wheelchair tennis. Then there is Jessica Long, a gold medalist Paralympian, who demonstrates her wicked sense of humor with the public regarding her prosthetics. How can you not laugh at her mischievousness? NCAA basketball player Kevin Laue, with just one arm, learns early how to deal with questions, comments and stares with grace.
I found it incredible how technology could help the blind play baseball with the game of beep baseball. Greg Gontaryk shares his experiences with the game. Partly paralyzed Anthony Netto amazed me by his pushing beyond the boundaries of golf to invent the Paramobile, a stand-up and play wheelchair-type golf cart with others. Hannah McFadden, a track and field Paralympian, knows how to train hard, and she tells you her secrets. She is tougher than any able-bodied person at her gym, tough like a diamond.
I hope their stories will thrill you and motivate middle school students, both disabled and able-bodied, to go after whatever athletic career you desire. I want you to say if they can enjoy a sport, so can I. Adults, do not let the fact that this is a book for young people stop you. These stories may inspire you as well-as they have done some of my other readers-in achieving your goals. The book holds activities, too, that middle graders can do to help them perform some of the sports skills like they were a person with a disability. I wanted these activities in the book so that children could try to understand the disabled in their athletic careers.
These athletes are my heroes. I hope they will be yours, too, and let your inner voice push you to obtain your dreams. Just remember – as so many of them had said – you may have to do things differently.