The Adaptive Sports and Recreation in WNY podcast was created to share experiences and expertise of athletes, their families and community organizations on adaptive sports and recreation in WNY. Episodes will highlight different perspectives on adaptive and inclusive sports and recreation in WNY. This podcast is a collaboration between Greater Buffalo Adaptive sports and the Department of Rehabilitation Science at the University at Buffalo.
Four Western New York athletes, Steve Spitz, Emily Keicher, Kate Hahn and Adam Page, discuss their pathway to adaptive/inclusive sports, the multiple sports they enjoy and what keeps them in adaptive sports. Host: Jeanne Langan, Department of Rehabilitation Science, UB
sports, adaptive, people, wheelchair, played, western new york, started, buffalo, adaptive sports, wheelchair basketball, athletes, recreation, friends, community, horseback riding, ski, sailing, watersports, involved, fun
Kate Hahn, Emily Keicher, Jeanne Langan, Adam Page, Steve Spitz
Steve Spitz 00:03
Hey everyone. Welcome to the Adaptive Sports and Recreation in Western New York podcast. We're going to share some experiences and expertise of local athletes, their families and community organizations. Our discussions are going to range from league sport competitions to weekend fun with family and friends. We're coming to you from Buffalo, New York, city of good neighbors, great year-round recreation and definitely play hard attitude.
Jeanne Langan 00:41
Hello, I'm Jeanne Langan. I'm excited to host the first episode of Athletes Talk: Adaptive and Inclusive Sports and Recreation in Western New York. Sports and recreation add so much to our lives: fun, camaraderie, fitness, just to name a few of the benefits. Giving everyone the ability and opportunity to compete or participate is the foundation for adaptive and inclusive sports and recreation. And with this podcast, I'm really happy that a larger audience has the opportunity to learn from the athletes here today. This podcast is a collaboration between the Rehabilitation Science Department at the University at Buffalo and the Western New York community. We have four athletes from Western New York and our roundtable discussion. Steve Spitz, Emily Keicher, Kate Hahn, Adam Page. I’m going to ask each athlete to tell us a bit about themselves and share what drew them to their sports and their pathway to getting involved.
Steve Spitz 01:31
I'm Steve, I'm a wheelchair user of 32 years now and I was injured in a motor vehicle accident that resulted in spinal cord injury. I got involved in wheelchair basketball and a variety of wheelchair sports very soon after my accident, and this gave me the, you know, kind of the push, so to speak, continue on and to get integrated back in the community.
Jeanne Langan 01:51
Emily Keicher 01:53
My name is Emily, and I was born with spina bifida. I really wanted to be an active girl, but I was like, how could I get involved in all these sports? And my parents and I, we just found all these sports and I just love playing them.
Jeanne Langan 02:10
That's great. Kate.
Kate Hahn 02:12
My name is Kate, and I was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at 19, wheelchair user for about 12 years. Before I was on a wheelchair, I played a bazillion sports, so I think these adaptive sports just help me to continue to do that, but just in a different way.
Jeanne Langan 02:29
Adam Page 02:30
I’m Adam. I was born with spina bifida and I'm a three-time Paralympic gold medalist for sled hockey, and I also co-founded the Greater Buffalo Adaptive Sports Foundation. We are able to give disabled athletes the opportunity to participate in adaptive sports.
Jeanne Langan 02:47
I'm especially excited to have all of you here because you're not single sport players. I'm going to ask you to go back through and list all the sports you've played in Western New York, just so people get a chance to understand how much is available. Adam let's start with you.
Adam Page 03:05
I started off playing Challenger baseball. I did Lothlorien horseback riding when I was younger. Of course, sled hockey. I've done the downhill skiing at Holiday Valley with the Lounsbury program and just recently started playing wheelchair football and then also play wheelchair lacrosse as well.
Jeanne Langan 03:26
Kate Hahn 03:29
I have done a lot of water sports. Kayaking, tubing, water skiing, and I also did riding at Lothlorien and the adaptive ski program at Holiday Valley as well.
Jeanne Langan 03:43
Emily Keicher 03:44
Well, I do adaptive swimming, wheelchair basketball, adaptive wheelchair lacrosse, adaptive baseball, and I'm about to do adaptive and wheelchair tennis.
Jeanne Langan 03:55
Steve Spitz 03:57
So, I'm not originally from Buffalo but moving to Buffalo, I got involved in the wheelchair basketball team here and managed them for about 13,14 years. We had a wheelchair tennis program going here. Adaptive cycling, waterskiing, snow skiing, do some camping in Western New York as well. I just started with the football team here locally, also. I just sort of dabble and I try to I try everything I can get involved in.
Jeanne Langan 04:26
Great! How did you find your way to your sports? Emily, you had mentioned that your parents kind of helped you get started?
Emily Keicher 04:33
Yeah. Well, for wheelchair basketball, for instance, I actually played in Rochester and I really liked it, but I wanted to do something that was close to home. So, I was like, why don't I make my own wheelchair basketball team and have my friends who are and who aren't disabled in it, because I want everybody to be included because that's what these sports are all about, having everybody disabled or not disabled, mental or physical disabilities included.
Jeanne Langan 05:01
That's great. And thank you for bringing up that some of the things we're talking about are inclusive sports, whereas other things are adaptive.
Emily Keicher 05:09
For me, adaptive means that you have to adapt it to yourself, but inclusive means it already has been adapted for you.
Jeanne Langan 05:17
I like that. That’s great. And so, Emily and Adam probably had help getting into sports with their parents, but Kate ...
Kate Hahn 05:26
I always went horseback riding as a kid and loved it. I was just looking for things that I could do, and actually asked for it for my birthday once as a full-grown adult. I just found this, and I just had everybody in my family say, “If you want to get me a gift, you don't have to, but you can all chip in and do this”. And so that's how I went horseback riding. And the watersports is all pretty much Steve. I met him and he voiced that he participates and leads some of them. I just jumped in on that and loved it. And the skiing, I don’t remember how. I think I’m just always looking for things to do and somehow it must have just been mentioned by somebody and I took advantage of that and looked into it and jumped in on it as well.
Steve Spitz 06:20
I have to agree. Once you take that first step, and whether it's word of mouth, or you searching out for different, you know, recreation and sports, that's kind of how it worked for me. You know, the wheelchair basketball, when I was injured was the most prevalent wheelchair sport around. Most of the small mid-sized cities had one and in larger as well. And from there, there's word of mouth. You get involved in the sports community and you either, as Emily and Adam did, to some extent, you create another sport. You round up some people to get involved, or you just you seek it out, you know, within your geographical areas so you can participate.
Jeanne Langan 07:12
Great. And so, you started a couple of your own sports. How did you get started and how did you grow it?
Steve Spitz 07:22
Putting the pieces together, you know, with other members of the community. You know, I’ve been in the disabled community for so long now, you get to know other people, and they came to me and, you know, with the Water Sports Foundation, you know, Water Sports Association, you know, we just decided that with all the beautiful waterways we have around here, it made sense. I had some prior experience in waterskiing. I took on that activity and just, you know, kind of took off from there.
Jeanne Langan 07:51
Great. And Adam you co-founded the Greater Buffalo Adaptive Sports. How did that come to be?
Adam Page 08:00
So, after I actually came back from Vancouver in 2010, I was lucky enough to meet a family that their child was just born with spina bifida. And I didn't realize this at the time, but while I was leading up to the Paralympics, in 2010, the family was in the Ronald McDonald House here in Buffalo and kind of was following my story in the newspaper articles and was saving everything. And when I came home, a family friend said we’re having a fundraiser and they called us and said, “Would you like to go and meet the family?” And of course, we said yes, we would love to. And so, we went down and met the family and I think at that point we kind of realized what impact I could have on, you know, the community and not just, you know, one person but a whole disabled community in general. So that kind of sparked the idea of starting what was the Sled Hockey Foundation back then. But then we kind of realized that not everybody is going to like sled hockey, and then to be able to service more athletes in the community we rebranded and kind of expanded the sports that we offer.
Jeanne Langan 09:18
Right. And so I'm hearing a lot of you pull others into the sports that you're in. How do you reach out to other people and if you are suggesting to the community to get involved, how to get involved in the sport, I should say.
Emily Keicher 09:36
For some sports, a lot of men are playing, but women, they don't think they can actually play sports. But as matter of fact, you can. So, you guys just need to reach out for like family and friends, and they can get you started. And for me, when I get all my friends recruited, they were from school or from what my parents, my parents knew their parents. So, they reached out to them. And so, everybody can play even if you guys don't think you can. You can create your own team. You can create your own sport. You just have to dream it and make it happen.
Jeanne Langan 10:16
Others, how do you bring people in or suggestions for getting involved?
Steve Spitz 10:22
I think it's, you know, the obvious is these days, it's so much easier with the internet, you know, to reach out and get some collaboration. Back in the day, it was kind of, you know, going. It was actually pounding the pavement. Going to different, you know, organizations and leaving flyers, talking to people, spreading the word, you know, one team, I remember trying to steal people from the sled hockey team. Yeah, yeah, it's much easier now, because there's so much more interconnectedness. But, you know, it's just trying to do the best you can with the word out there. There's this new sport, organization, whatever you want to call it, forming for recreation and give it a try.
Jeanne Langan 11:16
I'm curious, Kate, what did Steve say to get you involved in the water sports?
Kate Hahn 11:20
I don't know. Probably just voiced that it’s available.
Steve Spitz 11:26
She didn’t need much coaxing.
Jeanne Langan 11:27
It didn’t take a lot of twisting your arm.
Kate Hahn 11:29
I think I showed up there the next day and I was like, “What the heck! Why is nobody in the lake?” I think it is definitely just word of mouth. Like even for me, I mean over all of us, if you have a disability, you end up having other people with disabilities in your life. So even if I post a random picture of me being a hooligan on a jet ski, like, people will see that and in my sphere of, you know, friends and such, you know, they may have a disability or not, or they have a child with one. And I mean, so even if I am not doing it like a direct creating a team or whatnot, just that word of mouth, and the circles of friends that we are in just, it tends to spread that way too.
Jeanne Langan 12:14
That's great. And what keeps you in the sports?
Kate Hahn 12:19
The adrenaline rush?
Emily Keicher 12:22
Yeah, my friends and my family. They, you know, like, they cheer me on and they, and they say you can do it, you can do it. So, I know that I can always do it even if it's hard. I always had to push on and move on and do it, do my best.
Steve Spitz 12:42
Initially, it's the adrenaline that you mentioned. It's the ability to compete and have some fun. And then for me, that was the initial push. I had seen a wheelchair basketball game. I think either I was towards the end of my rehabilitation, inpatient rehabilitation, and you know, over a weekend stay or shortly after, and I thought it was incredible. I’d never touched a basketball. Almost never touched a basketball through high school, playing other sports and just said, this looks amazing. Came out to the team and found that not only the rush of the competition, but the camaraderie, the networking, the figuring out, you know, how these other people with disabilities live their life benefits you a great deal. It’s a huge, huge, huge boost.
Kate Hahn 13:39
I always say to that, like our bodies crave to move, like that doesn't go away, just because suddenly you're in a wheelchair. And I think it just, you got to find different ways. Like I've always played sports and I think when you're if you weren't born with something and you're diagnosed later, like you still, I still wanted to play sports. I still I think our bodies crave to move. And even if it's not like, like your arms and legs are moving, like going down a, you know, a ski slope, at a bazillion miles an hour, it’s that movement. And I think it's just, I think all bodies probably in some way, shape or form just want to move and whether it comes in that way or actually running or something. I think it's just part of it is that it's satisfying, satisfying that, you know, the need or the desire to move around a little bit when you can't maybe do that in a way that you would have in the past.
Jeanne Langan 14:34
What about the competition part of it? Is that something that's a driver or not as big?
Adam Page 14:46
For me that's what I liked the most about it. I love having fun, but I always like to whatever I'm doing, I like to you know, give it my all and the competition is my favorite part.
Emily Keicher 15:01
Yeah, I totally agree with Adam on that, one hundred percent.
Steve Spitz 15:08
You get a bunch of people on the court, you know, for a basketball game or whatever lacrosse, whatever it may be. And it's fun to see, you know, people are tentative at first, but that's then once everyone kind of gets used to it, the intensity slowly, slowly increases. It's a lot of fun.
Jeanne Langan 15:27
Give us a sample of your most memorable sporting memory.
Emily Keicher 15:31
It's when I first started my wheelchair basketball team. I saw how many people were there on like the first or second or third day we had like 15 to 25 people, and I was like, oh my god, I can't believe we recruited this many. I was like, I'm so excited to start this program.
Jeanne Langan 15:51
Steve Spitz 15:53
That’s a tough one. The longer you've been involved, you know, in sports, each activity you get, you know, a different feeling every time you're out there. The first time even though I was in a very basic ski, my first time at the top of the ski hill. You know, first time riding handcycle and just going. Waterskiing the first time. I got on the water ski and actually got up and then was able to go outside the wake and slalom and was like, oh my gosh, you know, I can't believe I'm doing this you know, again, that gives you the impetus, the drive to try something else.
Emily Keicher 16:32
Yeah, I definitely agree. And I also do adaptive track and field. So, adaptive track and field, there's like, four things you can do, track, javelin, shotput. All those. Yeah, so one sport can give so many opportunities.
Jeanne Langan 16:49
And in some of those sports you do both standup in crutches and some sports in a wheelchair?
Emily Keicher 16:59
Yeah. Most of them I usually use my wheelchair and stuff. But the one I usually use my crutches for is adaptive baseball, because it's all grass and I can’t move my wheels on the grass.
Jeanne Langan 17:13
Kate Hahn 17:15
I think my most memorable was waterskiing as well. But the reason it was so memorable is because everyone said it's impossible to tip this the outward because it’s so far out and I proved them wrong, because that's how I roll. No pun intended. I think, I don't know it was even though I rolled it or flipped it, whatever, it just, part of it was just that it was awesome to get moving. And the other part was that all the volunteers there were so amazing. Like, it was just like, do you want to keep going? Do you want to try to, for us to get you back on the ski? And, and they did. But the thing that was so cool is I find in all groups like this, you know, the people that are making it possible for you to get out there. It almost seemed like when I came back in and was up on a ski, like they knew that I tipped it, but they were all like cheering and it was like as if, you know, I was like friends with them for 10 years, like they legitimately just are so joyful to get people out there that maybe wouldn't have. And I think for me, that's a huge part of it. Like, it just, I think it is amazing. Like I went to Lake George once and learned adaptive sailing. And even though it was, you know, quite a distance from there, the group was the same as here, they literally were just this joyful group of people that were so excited to get you out on the water when you probably couldn't have and that just makes you excited and happy too because it's, they love it, you love it. And it's just, I mean, again, some of the people you feel like you've known your whole life because, they just, their so kind and joyful. And you know, they're giving their time. But not only that, but they're kind of you know, they just make you feel welcome and make you excited to not only do the sport, but just be part of the group.
Adam Page 18:59
My most memorable moment would probably be winning the gold medals in the Paralympics, not realizing when I was born or when I was even five or six when I started sled hockey, that that's where it would give me the opportunity to play for Team USA and compete for a gold medal. So that was awesome.
Emily Keicher 19:18
Another most memorable moment was actually when I was on the ice for sled hockey, and I actually met Adam. We started playing and doing sled hockey together. Yeah.
Jeanne Langan 19:29
So, give me a sense of what's up and coming for sports in Buffalo and the greater area.
Adam Page 19:40
So, for Greater Buffalo Adaptive Sports, we're looking into, we just started wheelchair curling, a couple of clinics that we've done with the Buffalo Curling Center. We're going to be starting wheelchair tennis as well. That's up and coming for the summer and fall and then we're also looking to bring wheelchair softball here as well and do a clinic sometime in the fall. So, those are the up-and-coming ones for us that we're looking into getting started.
Jeanne Langan 20:24
Any recruits from the audience?
Emily Keicher 20:27
Well actually, we're actually doing an up-and-coming session of our wheelchair basketball team so we practice every Thursday at the Boys and Girls Club until mid-October and then we go into February and this we're actually ending our season next Thursday for basketball with an end of the year party, so if you guys want to join our team just we’ll give you information and just and you guys are welcome to join. We won't have like tryouts, we just have you guys come in and we’ll just see if you guys if you guys would like to enjoy it and join our team.
Steve Spitz 21:14
That’s in the Depew Boys and Girls Club?
Emily Keicher 21:17
Jeanne Langan 21:19
Great. So, they could get information probably through the Boys and Girls Club in Depew.
Emily Keicher 21:23
Yes, yes. Yeah.
Jeanne Langan 21:26
Greater Buffalo Adaptive Sports has a website.
Adam Page 21:27
Yep, that they can go to. And we usually list like, on our blogs, like what we're doing or what's up-and-coming.
Jeanne Langan 21:37
I’ve asked you about things that are happening local to the area, but I'm guessing you've probably participated in things outside of the area too. What other things have you participated in?
Emily Keicher 21:50
Well, for me, there's only actually one thing. I actually do adaptive baseball, which I actually don't use in my wheelchair I use in my forearm crutches.
Jeanne Langan 22:00
That sounds fun. What's your position?
Emily Keicher 22:04
Um, I usually do like I'm usually base. I usually do like third or second base, but it depends. We see what the coaches want and yeah, so that's out the area. We have like a 25-minute drive from where we live to go there.
Jeanne Langan 22:24
Where do you play?
Emily Keicher 22:25
Um, I think it’s in Lackawanna or somewhere, but around that area. It's like there's like baseball fields and then it's like there's also like a little area where you can get snacks and stuff after the games but yeah.
Jeanne Langan 22:43
Kate Hahn 22:45
I've gone out to, someone had mentioned an adaptive sailing program at Lake George. So, I made it a little trip. I stopped at Whiteface Mountain and climbed that in my van, which was not happy about that. But then I did the adaptive sailing, which is amazing. They kind of just teach you but also let you go sailing on Lake George, which is pretty awesome. And then I skydived versus sky dome. That was in New Paltz, New York outside of the city, and hang-gliding, which was in the Outer Banks. That was just a random I saw a billboard and called the number, and they were like, hey, if you can get here in an hour, we'll take you up. So, I did that as well.
Steve Spitz 23:29
Jeanne Langan 23:34
Anything else you're hiding from us?
Kate Hahn 23:43
I can’t think of anything else. Oh, NASCAR! Yeah, I did go on a NASCAR ride.
Jeanne Langan 23:49
Where was it?
Kate Hahn 23:50
I can't remember where it was. It was one of the NASCAR tracks. Oh, you know, it was in Michigan. They have the ability to do ride alongs there. So, they, I think the most adventurous part was probably them, pushing me and pulling me out of the window because there's no doors. But you also, I think we went, I want to say maybe you can go 150 or 175 miles an hour. I can't remember which it is, but it was pretty great. I was turning 40 and just was looking for something fun to do. So, I took some friends, and we went to Michigan and went on a NASCAR ride. Because of course that's what you do when you turn 40.
Steve Spitz 24:27
The epitome of sporty 40! I can't say that I've tried anything. Some of the sports that I've done outside of Buffalo like sailing, we've been up to the Thousand Islands. They had a North Country Access Expo up there and we did some water skiing and sailing up there. You know, I've done a lot of the other, you know, traveled to do some wheelchair tennis and basketball. But there it is. There's so much more out there to adapt. I mean if you can dream it, either someone's doing it, or someone's trying to adapt it so that a disabled person can use it, can do that sport as well. And that, you know, recreate the same way. It's great, you know, to see the explosion of adaptive sports.
Jeanne Langan 25:20
All right. Well, thank you all for joining me and sharing your experiences. And we'd love to have you come back and tell us a little bit more in another episode.
Steve Spitz and Emily Keicher 25:30
Definitely. Thank you. Thank you so much.
Jeanne Langan 25:33
Thanks for listening. If there are suggestions for podcast topics or questions for the athletes, please contact us through Greater Buffalo Adaptive Sports. You can reach them through their web page or find them on Facebook. Or you can also reach us through the Rehabilitation Science Department at the University at Buffalo. I'm faculty there and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you to everyone at the UBlibraries for helping to produce this podcast. Thanks for listening to the Adaptive Sports and Recreation Western New York podcast. Have a great day.
Four local athletes, Steve Spitz, Emily Keicher, Kate Hahn and Adam Page, return to discuss adaptive equipment in adaptive/inclusive sports. The discussion includes progression of sports equipment and accessing equipment. The discussion flows into related topics of travel for sporting events and accessibility of hotels as well as fitting equipment to preserve skin integrity. Host: Jeanne Langan, Department of Rehabilitation Science, UB
sport, equipment, adaptive sports, wheelchair, chair, skiing, adaptive equipment, people, kayaks, foundations, adapt, helping, travel, piece, outriggers, fundraisers, fitted, organization, year, ability
Kate Hahn, Emily Keicher, Jeanne Langan, Adam Page, Steve Spitz
Steve Spitz 00:00
Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Adaptive Sports and Recreation in Western New York podcast. We're going to share some experiences and expertise of local athletes, their families and community organizations. Our discussions are going to range from league sport competitions to weekend fun with family and friends. Coming to you from Buffalo, New York, the city of good neighbors, great year-round recreation and definitely a play hard attitude.
Jeanne Langan 00:33
Hello, I'm Jeanne Langan. I'm hosting the second episode of adaptive sports and recreation in Western New York podcast. This podcast is a collaboration between the Department of Rehabilitation Science at the University at Buffalo and the Western New York adaptive sports community. In Episode One, we met four local athletes that discussed adaptive sports, and how they got into their sport, they agreed to come back to discuss adaptive equipment today. Welcome back Steve, Emily, Kate and Adam. Maybe you can describe some of the adaptive equipment in the sport you use to start with.
Steve Spitz 01:05
Being such an old timer, I'll go first because I've been in adaptive sports for so long that when I first started with wheelchair basketball, we would take our what was somewhat new at the time, ultralight wheelchairs, and modify them for court use to use as basketball wheelchairs. Since then, more and more sports specific chairs have become available. So, you have basketball specific chairs, which is kind of considered a court chair, tennis, quad rugby, it kind of just goes on from there. You have chairs specific to outdoor hiking, with all terrain wheels, beach wheelchairs, it just you know, the list goes on and on. There's so much so much more than there was just even 20 years ago, 10or 20 years ago.
Jeanne Langan 01:52
So, do you own your own court chair or how would you get one for the sport?
Steve Spitz 02:01
My basketball chair, my basketball specific chair, the last one I used was a hand me down chair. So, I acquired it secondhand because it was so costly. You know, initially and when I did acquire that chair, there wasn't as much in the way of grant foundations and other funding out there. So, I bought a secondhand piece of equipment so that I could have a basketball specific chair that, you know, it makes a huge difference on the court.
Jeanne Langan 02:32
And Emily, you play...
Emily Keicher 02:34
Wheelchair basketball, so but for the wheelchairs that I have, we actually borrowed some and this organization and this highway helped us fundraise and now have donated five wheelchairs to us. And they've been helping us all throughout this journey that we've had.
Jeanne Langan 02:53
Great. So, if somebody wanted to be in the inclusive basketball team, they can just show up and a chair would be waiting for them.
Emily Keicher 03:00
Yeah, well, we're going to, if we need to see how many players are actually going to be joining, so we can ask Rob, who's head of Endless Highway, and we would need to see how many chairs we would need or need to borrow.
Jeanne Langan 03:17
Okay. Adam, how about sports you’ve been in.
Adam Page 03:19
So, kind of like a little bit with what Steve was saying, when I started playing sled hockey, the sleds that were given to us, you know, I was five, six years old, and they were like 50 pounds. We would actually take the bottom of real hockey skates and drill it into the bottom of plywood underneath the seat. And then there was actually like a car seat belt that we would put on the sleds. But now I mean, even the technology is, has grown so much and just in sled hockey, were they’re 10-11 pounds now and you know, like Steve was saying too, there's so many grants and opportunities out there to get this equipment. But you know, so I mean, that's kind of how I acquired mine. I was actually, my parents were able to help me and got my first sled and then kind of just went from there. Then, with the national team, they obviously have funding to give, you know, your equipment to you. So, it's just and then with our foundation, you know, it's a lot of networking to find organizations out there willing to donate, and then just grants out there for all the different adaptive equipment. So that we acquire enough over time to be able to, like Emily was saying, if anybody wants to come try out the sports that we have, to have enough there that they can just get in a sled, or wheelchair or whatever it is and be able to play right away.
Jeanne Langan 04:48
That's great and I know that I got a chance to try out some of the equipment at Canalside. Is that something that's still happening for sled hockey?
Adam Page 04:58
Yeah, we kind of do that. Um, every few months or every, like, five, six weeks, we're out there doing, Just Try Events, we call it for sled hockey that no matter if you're disabled or able bodied that you can, we have like about 30 sleds that we bring, and people can come out and try it for free and just to see what it's like to be in a sled and get a feel for it.
Kate Hahn 05:24
I'm just sitting over here drooling over all these opportunities I never knew about. I don't know anything about equipment, and I just usually show up. I would help if there were ways that I could participate in that. But I usually just benefit from all the work that everybody else does.
Jeanne Langan 05:40
Great. So, if you're kayaking, tell us a little bit about the kayaks you use.
Kate Hahn 05:47
Yeah, so they have a bunch, I don't even know how many kayaks. There's a couple that have the ability to like, I would need something that would be able to hold me in a sitting up position. So, they have a lot of kayaks that are just look like regular kayaks, they are regular kayaks. So, if it was someone with maybe a cognitive challenge, or someone that had full upper body strength, they would be able to use those. I happen to need one that has laterals that would be able to hold me in an up position. And at this point, I typically go into a tandem one, so that there's someone else doing some of the work with me. Because otherwise I'm kind of just spinning in circles in the same spot. So, there's all those they have all the equipment needed for it seems a wide array of levels of ability.
Steve Spitz 06:31
It's not quite how I remember it the first couple of times I saw her go out. We had to send people out to get her. She was gone so far.
Jeanne Langan 06:39
I do remember the term. Under no circumstances should anybody touch [inaudible] kayak.
Kate Hahn 06:48
I will not come back on a tow rope. I've changed my ways a little bit, because I still want to go out on a kayak, but I was very adamant against the towropes.
Steve Spitz 06:56
Yeah, so you know, if you're an individual that's looking to get into a sport, and you know, by chance, there's no organization near you, there is, I'd say a good dozen or so that I'm aware of alone throughout the country, national organizations, that you can go on their website, fill out a form and get funding for equipment. Some are specific to certain sports, you know, whether it's skiing, sled hockey, there's a lot of them that are specific to a certain sport, but plenty of foundations out there that will help you get the equipment, if you're an individual looking to get into a sport. If there's a sport in your area, generally, that team will have either used equipment or team equipment that you can use, or possibly funding to get you something if you end up being that serious about it. So, they'll have funding that'll help you purchase something that's fitted to you so that your equipment in a lot of cases needs to be fitted to you if you're going to be serious, if you're serious about taking the sport to another level, the equipment should be fitted to you so that it helps you perform, you know, to your potential.
Jeanne Langan 08:01
So, somebody should not be deterred by cost, if they want to get into some of these sports. You think there are enough opportunities and I liked that you mentioned the national websites. What are some that you might look at?
Steve Spitz 08:18
Yeah, I would start with the largest organization out there. It is Move United. It used to be Disabled Sports USA. Moveunitedsport.org. And they probably have a listing of foundations for the different sports. I know they have a list of the different sports by state and by activity. And I think you can take it a step further and then go down, you know, then go to different foundations that will support you in that sport. I know there's a Travis Roy Foundation in New England. He was a hockey player that was injured and had a spinal cord injury. And they have a foundation that will provide you with funds for just about any recreational sport you want to try.
Jeanne Langan 09:01
Great. So, it sounds like asking, whether it is through Move United or Greater Buffalo Adaptive Sports or just people who are already in the sport, that asking how they got some of their equipment funded is a good avenue to start with.
Steve Spitz 09:20
Yep, yeah. And then you know, alternatively, you know, if you're just interested and you don't want to go those routes, secondhand equipment is available nowadays with, you know, the online social, social networking sites. Facebook has a disability trading zone. I've seen there's a variety of other sites out there, do a little search for used equipment and I'm sure you can come up with some used equipment that's reasonably priced. That'll help you get going in whatever activity you're looking for
Jeanne Langan 09:49
Are there fundraisers around the area that we should be aware of?
Adam Page 09:53
I know for like some of our programs we do like fundraisers specifically for the teams. Me and my dad, like run ourselves, we try to do fundraisers to maybe get four or five extra chairs for next season or, you know, depending on how many people that we have, or if there's, if we know that there's more interest, and we're going to need five or six more like, we'll try to do fundraisers. And then also, you know, just kind of offset the cost of even some of the travel that goes on with the sports teams as well. We do fundraising for both.
Jeanne Langan 10:32
That's a really good point you brought up there. Tell me about travel to and from some of these events. How do you arrange that? Is it all your family or is there help with that?
Steve Spitz 10:46
Team managers, generally. You know, there's a lot of cases, there's someone who runs the team, someone who, you know, is helping with equipment. There's a variety, some of the team members themselves do some of their own organizing. I know, in my years, I was a team manager for the basketball team and I would get directions, reserve hotel rooms, reserve gyms. In a lot of cases families help out.
Emily Keicher 11:11
Yeah, we usually get family connections or like, friends to help. You know, we usually don't do travel for my Buffalo wheelchair basketball team. We usually don't do travel. We're still working on practicing and practicing in the Depew Boys and Girls Club. And we haven't decided yet if we are going to travel, but our closest or most closest is Rochester. So, we're trying to see if we can get like games with them.
Jeanne Langan 11:46
And another thing that just came up there, the hotels when you're doing some of your tournaments, how does that work with accessible rooms?
Steve Spitz 11:56
It can be a challenge.
Emily Keicher 11:58
Yeah, a big challenge. Some of them, like they don't have enough rooms, or they don't have any elevators. It's just sometimes it's a hassle trying to find, and also the prices for every room. It just doesn't work out.
Kate Hahn 12:16
It can be tricky, too because a lot of times everybody's accessible is different. Like what might be beneficial and helpful for me to stay somewhere, wouldn't be maybe, you know, what Emily needed. So that can be tricky to navigate. I've learned to never book, you know anything online, always just call and get a person. And triple check that they really mean roll in shower, and they're roll in shower doesn't happen to have a bathtub that somehow is classified as a roll in shower. So, it's always I've learned that lesson the hard way a lot of times, but it's just, you know, asking a lot of questions. Then you just gotta go from there and do the best you can, because some of it might, you're always going to run into stuff. It's not worth not taking those opportunities to go just because of what might happen because even able-bodied people are going to run into that stuff. So, it's, I've kind of just learned that it's asking as many questions as you can, and trying to, you know, do the best you can on narrowing down what you know what you're going to be walking into, or rolling into, to make sure that it can somewhat suit you.
Steve Spitz 13:21
I was just thinking in some ways, that's almost the essence of adapting. When you're out traveling, you have to find ways to, you know, to deal with the accommodations. It's bad enough just traveling individually to find the right accommodations. Then, you know, amplify that with 10 or 15 people on a team going into a particular, a single hotel, and trying to find, you know. When the football team went to Kansas City earlier this year, and the rooms were kind of tight, and I ended up taking the door off my bathroom. Pretty dangerous. Just so we could have access. You find ways to make it work.
Jeanne Langan 14:06
Well, it sounds like the travel has a lot of camaraderie building in it. Tell me a little bit more about your favorite piece of adaptive equipment.
Adam Page 14:18
I have to say, now, it's probably the, the wheelchairs that we use for football and lacrosse. Just because, you know, I grew up in playing sled hockey for 12 years straight and not really had the opportunity to play any wheelchair sports and there really wasn't anything available here besides like the basketball team that really wasn't around, you know, when I was kind of looking for other opportunities. And, you know, now we're lucky enough to have a youth program available here and so it's cool to try something different and be, you know, in a wheelchair and playing sports, and usually, you know, I get around with crutches most of the time, so I'm not in a wheelchair, you know, 100% of the time. So, it's cool to have a different perspective playing a sport in a wheelchair rather than a sled or anything else.
Jeanne Langan 15:19
Give us a little bit of an example of what makes the court chairs different than the chair you may use during your regular day.
Emily Keicher 15:29
Well, yeah, some for the most part it's like the wheels. So, wheels, in your regular wheelchair, the wheels are straight, but they're for the wheelchair basketball ones, they're tilted. So, it gives you like, a bit more strength you would say? Yeah.
Steve Spitz 15:46
It gives you more stability because they’re wider, because of that angle, which she is referring to. It also helps you turn quicker. The chairs are generally lightweight, easy to push and very high-pressure tires.
Emily Keicher 16:00
Yeah. Very high-pressure tires.
Steve Spitz 16:02
Kinda like everything else these days, you can customize it to fit you as best you can.
Emily Keicher 16:09
There are different sizes. Yeah, we have like a smaller one for like a four-or five-year-old. That's how small we get our wheelchairs.
Jeanne Langan 16:19
That’s great they get started that young.
Steve Spitz 16:22
In addition to that, you think about some of the strategies they use these days. Basically, you're a part of the chair, because you usually have at least two if not three straps. You strap your hips, your thighs, your feet and you kind of become one with the chair so that you're moving translates down to the chair.
Emily Keicher 16:39
Yeah, but sometimes we usually don't use the feet ones, we usually just use the other two. Yeah, like just the legs and the other strap. Yeah, we usually don't use feet ones. But if we need to, we ask people just to put the feet ones on just to be safe, but sometimes they don't.
Steve Spitz 16:59
Each person's functional ability varies a lot. So, the way they use the equipment is going to vary quite a bit. So, to continue with the original question, I have to say, one of my favorite pieces of equipment is my handcycle. Kate spent the greater part of a day in one of the Rec Expos.
Kate Hahn 17:24
I didn't move for a week after, but it was totally worth it.
Emily Keicher 17:27
Yeah, better than my push rim.
Jeanne Langan 17:31
So now I want to know more about this hand cycle.
It just gives you the ability. It's a hand cycle that you transfer onto, you know, there are high and low sitting versions, recumbent style, they call it with your legs out. And others that you sit at a right angle, you're sitting upright. The lower versions are a little sportier, a little faster, tend to have more gears and you just can get out on the open road and go. You're out of your chair. You know, you're pedaling with your hands, low to the ground, you start hitting 20-30 miles an hour and you feel like you're going 100.You know, it's just a great feeling.
Jeanne Langan 18:15
No wonder she loved it.
Kate Hahn 18:20
One thing I love too, is the way that people find ways to make it work for everybody. Like last year when I was skiing, snow skiing, they had outriggers that you use with their hands, and I went down one hill with them and it was very clear that it was not it wasn't smart for me because I didn't have the arm strength to pull them in. And they, you know, very kindly said you're going to break both your arms if you keep that up. But this year, so I did it without the outriggers for after that. But this year I went in, and you know, I explained because there was different people that I couldn't use the outriggers. They're like, oh no, we have new ones this year. And I just was so grateful and fascinated by the fact that they made outriggers that had balls on the bottom of them, so I was able to ski this year in a totally different way, because of the balls. I was, I didn't need as much upper body strength to be able to control the outriggers because they kind of went with the snow, but they didn’t even have them last year. And it was just, they brainstormed, and I guess that was a thing, but they didn't have that. So, someone went out and got these and they have an older fella there that is willing to you know, he's just kind of MacGyver with adaptive sports equipment. And so, they ended up with these different outriggers that changed my skiing, and I'm just one person but I love how they like looked into it. And suddenly, I mean I would still love skiing, even if I wasn't using outriggers, but this, the ability, I mean, it just gave me the ability to be doing so much more of it and having more control and being able to participate so much more by controlling the ski because I had outriggers that worked for very little upper body strength. I probably will talk about those balls for hours for the next five years. And no one will know what I'm talking about. But they were amazing. And I just think it's awesome that they really looked into it and pursued it and it's something that they, you know, kind of tried to find a way to make it work for everybody. And I just think that that's just awesome.
Steve Spitz 20:21
Yeah, that's perfect, another epitome of you know, adapting to make it more enjoyable for her, for more functional, you know, the whole thing, it's a, it's a great, great to see.
Kate Hahn 20:31
And you could go faster.
Jeanne Langan 20:35
So, I love that you found somebody who was already within the organization to help adapt. Have you found anything online, that may be a good resource for people, as far as adaptability goes?
Steve Spitz 20:54
I think there's, I mean, you know, in thinking about it, I was just going to revert back to the early days of waterskiing. There was a website, a couple of websites, that would give you a, an outline as to how to start your, your clinics. And by now, as I think about it, I mean, YouTube, you know, you can find almost anything on YouTube that will show you how to, you know, how to participate, what to do, or, you know, how to make modifications or adapt something. There's, yeah, the resources are out there, I, you know, again, maybe go back to Move United.
Adam Page 21:35
I was just gonna say, like, Move United, you know, they have tons of programs that, you know, they've started and, you know, I know, that's kind of what we went through, when we started our wheelchair lacrosse program. The two guys that started the sport in the country, they went through, Move United and, and kind of formed their own governing body, which was Wheelchair Lacrosse USA. And they actually, we got a hold of them, and they were able to come and do clinics. So, it's kind of maybe going through something like Move United, and then say, you know, this is what I'm looking for. And then Move United will, you know, get you in touch with whatever program you're looking to start or whatever sport you're getting, or wanting to start. Then you can kind of set up a clinic, you know, for whatever sport it is.
Jeanne Langan 22:33
Any piece of equipment that you are thinking somebody needs to create this.
Adam Page 22:38
For me, there's not any, like, specific equipment that I would say that, you know, that needs to be done. But you know, what would be amazing would be at some point where you wouldn't have to, you know, schedule a time to go in, and ski or go in and do the water skiing or, or just really any of the adaptive sports. Not to have like a lesson or set up a time where there was enough equipment that that program had that you could just go out and you could go with your family at any point, anytime, and go out and ski or do whatever adaptive sport it was.
Kate Hahn 23:24
I think, for me, when I went horseback riding, I had this dream of it being something like a special saddle that could hold you in an up opposition, because if I, like if I would have had lateral supports, I could have done so much more. I actually had to bow out of the lessons before they were completed, because it just was too much for them to have like three people holding me up. But I had this picture of like, when we were kids, and you went on an elephant at the zoo, you were in like a little basket. And I know that sounds silly, but I kind of pictured it, where it would hold you in an upright position. And I would, I truly would be able to do a tremendous amount more if I had something holding me up. And I looked into it a little bit. They do exist. Like, I don't know if there's some old man out there stitching leather, but like, they were super expensive. And it just didn't seem like a very, it wasn't like an organized thing. For me, when I know that when I was horseback riding, I would have loved to pursue it, but there was no realistic way to pursue it without having a lot of core strength. So that would be something that I would dream about. Well, maybe that's a little bit exaggerated. I would love to see that there was an adapted horse saddle that could just give someone the ability to sit upright if they didn't have the strength to sit upright.
Emily Keicher 24:40
Yeah, I actually agree with both of you guys. I think those are really big things that you can actually dream about and think about but if you guys had the time, maybe you guys could just like create it or like when you guys have any time or anything you can just start dreaming or start creating it. If you guys, if you guys can't wait too long, you can just start creating it. And if you guys, and to all you guys out there if there isn't anything or if there's not any equipment or anything, you guys can dream it and build it or design it. You guys can change the way people like see people with disabilities and people and people who see people with disabilities in sport.
Steve Spitz 25:29
It's a way to look at, it's not being done, find a way to do it.
Jeanne Langan 25:33
Yeah, and find a way to improve because we're very happy that Adam moved away from the plyboard with the skate attached to it to something that's used at the Olympic level.
Kate Hahn 25:44
Although MacGyver would have appreciated it.
Jeanne Langan 25:50
One more area. So, for padding, and making sure that your skincare needs are met, how do you adjust that in your sports?
Steve Spitz 26:00
It's kind of an extension of the you know, if someone needs a mobility device, you know, in the community, that kind of comes back around to the equipment that they're using for their adaptive sports. And then it's taken to a whole other level. I mean, with these model skis for snow skiing these days, they do custom molded seating, you know. For a lot of my gosh, you know, the wheelchair, the court chairs, all have cushions, it varies because with the court chairs, you don't spend as much time in them as you would in your everyday chair. If you're using that you have to find ways to there are you know, I lined my mono ski with something that kind of, it's called Stimulite, you know, but something that stems from the aerospace industry, and it's just a, you know, it's a urethane liner, it's about an inch, little over an inch thick, and it just protects your skin from the abrasion and friction, you know, or the activity of the sport. It's kind of an extension of your everyday equipment.
Jeanne Langan 27:07
And did you learn what you needed it for skincare from anything in particular or just experience?
Steve Spitz 27:14
It kind of tends to be case by case basis, I think. You kind of adapt each piece of equipment for what you need, for your positioning and for your skin safety, you know, for your skin protection, so to speak.
Kate Hahn 27:28
Some of its what you've learned just over the years, that when it's not involved with sports that you just figure out in your own chair on your own, and then you just transfer it over to the sport because you...
Steve Spitz 27:38
Kind of forgetting a little bit about our kayaking. I mean, that's one of the biggest ...
Kate Hahn 27:43
With the cushions and stuffing foam pieces in it and then duct taping them to you.
Steve Spitz 27:50
That is the epitome of you know, trying to fit or position someone in the kayak because it's...
Kate Hahn 27:57
Just making sure there's that’s rubbing against the hard plastic and...
Definitely, definite case by case basis.
Jeanne Langan 28:03
And a lot of duct tape. We're just learning that Steve has a lot of skills with...
Kate Hahn 28:09
You know it's not a really exciting day until someone pulls out a roll of duct tape.
Jeanne Langan 28:14
Anything else that people should know about adaptive equipment out there?
Steve Spitz 28:20
You know, keep searching. Because it's out there, you know, someone's adapting. If it's not out there, as a, you know, I don't want to say mass produced because none of this stuff is really mass produced. If it's not being manufactured by a major manufacturer, someone's out there modifying pieces of equipment so that they can accomplish the same thing and get involved.
Jeanne Langan 28:45
All right, on that we will end Episode Two. Thank you again for joining us.
Steve Spitz 28:51
Jeanne Langan 28:52
If there are suggestions for podcast topics or questions for the athletes, please contact us through Greater Buffalo Adaptive Sports. You can reach them through their web page or find them on Facebook. Or you can also reach us through the Rehabilitation Science Department at the University at Buffalo. I'm faculty there and my email is email@example.com. Thank you to everyone at the UB libraries for helping to produce this podcast. Thanks for listening to the adaptive sports and recreation Western New York podcast. Have a great day.
Three local athletes, Steve Spitz, Emily Keicher and Adam Page, return. Emily is accompanied by her parents Chris and Liz. Adam is accompanied by his father, Norm. We discuss family and sports. The topics range from parents supporting and coaching their children in sports, camaraderie with other parents through adaptive sports, and sports/recreation that they enjoy as a family. Athletes and parents emphasize the benefits that adaptive/inclusive sports have had for their family. Host: Jeanne Langan, Department of Rehabilitation Science, UB
sports, athletes, parents, adaptive sports, emily, coach, disabled, people, western new york, opportunity, playing, adam, kids, family, buffalo, sled hockey, game, disability, wheelchair, involved
Chris Keicher, Emily Keicher, Liz Keicher, Jeanne Langan, Adam Page, Norm Page, Steve Spitz
Steve Spitz 00:00
Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Adaptive Sports and Recreation in Western New York podcast. We're going to share some experiences and expertise of local athletes, their families and community organizations. Our discussions are going to range from league sport competitions to weekend fun with family and friends. Coming to you from Buffalo, New York, the city of good neighbors, great year-round recreation and definitely a play hard attitude.
Jeanne Langan 00:35
I'm Jean Langan, hosting episode three of the Adaptive Sports in Western New York podcast. This podcast is a collaboration between the Rehabilitation Science Department at the University at Buffalo, and the Western New York community. In this episode, we will be talking about family perspective. In episodes one and two, we discussed the adaptive sports that they participate in, and the adaptive equipment that they use for those sports. Today, three of those athletes have returned to discuss family perspectives. Steve, Emily, and Adam. And some of those athletes have brought family members with them. I'm going to ask the athletes to introduce their family members.
Emily Keicher 01:14
Well, my dad is actually the coach of my wheelchair basketball team. And mom, she's, I like to call her the co-coach. She helps us with, you know, helping to plan our like events and stuff and [inaudible] halftime at UB women's basketball games. We just did it this past a year, helping me with adaptive sports and helping me get out there.
Jeanne Langan 01:38
Adam Page 01:39
My dad's been anywhere from Team Manager to my coach, to water boy. Both my parents have been really supportive and anything that like I wanted to do, and, you know, never said no, and, you know, I think that's also the, you know, the biggest thing for me is growing up, I've had all these opportunities to try all different sports because my parents never said no and would take me to do those things. And, you know, obviously, at 5, 6, 7, 8 years old, you know, you can't take yourself anywhere. So, you know, it was my parents that were kind of sacrificing weekends to take me to tournaments, or to games or things like that.
Jeanne Langan 02:22
And, Steve, you are an athlete, but you also have children. How do you get involved in their sports?
Steve Spitz 02:30
I have to stop and just go back to that, just to how great that is to hear because, you know, as a parent, in general, you just want your kids to explore and try different things. And, you know, to know, from as a disabled athlete, from the past thirty years of being in a chair, knowing the limited opportunities that were around, when I first entered into the disabled sports arena. Now there's just so much more for these guys to try and find that niche. You know, that's, that's so cool to hear. But for me, it was, you know, a lot of it. So, I was in adaptive sports before I was a father. So, you know, I, I was exploring and trying different things. When I started to be a parent, I wanted to find things, more things that I could do with my children, that was one of the big factors in me getting into downhill skiing. So, because my kids were of the age, getting them involved in that. I had a friend that that we all know here, Mark, that is a big skier and kept pushing and pushing, saying you could do it and I realized that could be independent and ski with my kids. And that was a huge, huge factor, you know, in giving it a try. But with, with, you know, all the sports that I've done, I tried to do that, you know, do it with my children as well and, and so that we can all enjoy together.
Jeanne Langan 03:57
Tell me a little bit about some of your favorite family moments with adaptive sports.
Chris Keicher (Emily Keicher’s father) 04:02
Well, I know that for me personally, the first practice that we had for wheelchair basketball, it was such a such an eye-opening experience for me, just seeing all the kids with their faces, the smiles that they had on their face out on the court, just playing the game and practicing. And I actually have a picture downstairs where somebody had taken a picture with Emily, I was standing up next to Emily, she was looking up at me, I was looking down at her and we were talking about basketball. And I always go back to that picture whenever I see it. And that always says to me, you know the things that I love about, you know, coaching that team and that I love seeing her being a part of all these different sports.
Jeanne Langan 04:44
As a reminder for people that may not have been in episode one or two, it's an inclusive basketball team. What was your thinking with making it an inclusive basketball team?
Liz Keicher (Emily Keicher’s mother) 04:56
Well, I think that Emily has got friends who are or athletes on her other adaptive sports teams. But she's got friends who are in school, who aren’t disabled. And it just doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense that one group should be playing over here, and another group should be playing over here. Why wouldn't everybody just be playing together? And I think sometimes you just got to find a way to get the playing field level for everybody (inclusivity), but if you're playing, and you're still separate from people you still want to be playing with or you are on the outside watching in when somebody's playing, you're not really fully experiencing that inclusion. So, I think it's important to figure out how to break down those barriers and get everybody, people with varying levels of disability, people with no physical disabilities, people who may have cognitive disabilities, figuring out a way to bring them all together, together to play really just gives you a good example of, of inclusivity. So, I think that's what we largely had in mind. How to get everybody together, who wants to play, and the sports wheelchair, I think, is what really ends up being the vehicle to bring it all together.
Norm Page (Adam Page’s father) 06:08
It's a powerful thing to do that and have that as part of the sports programs. I think, you know, letting people know that that's important. Some, you know, there may be some sports where that doesn't happen. And I think that's, I think this is such a positive way to do it, because it includes the families, it includes the siblings, what was said is so true. I mean, it's such a, it does level the playing field, but it builds awareness for everyone involved. And I think of Adam, when, you know, we got away with Greater Buffalo Adaptive Sports. We, you know, we saw sled hockey, but we knew that, as Steve has said, you know, there's so many other things that we saw that, you know, we probably should be doing, giving opportunities. Not everybody is a hockey fan, not everybody wants, there should be, all of these sports should be available to all of our kids, whatever the situation may be. And so, I think, Adam saw that, and we expanded into lacrosse first and got into wheelchair lacrosse. And the first thing we did was say, we need to have, you know, able bodied, as well as, you know, disabled athletes on a team together. They taught us how to play lacrosse, and we taught them how to use the chair. And you know, the disability goes away, it disappears. Just one example, I remember Adam, the first day we dropped him off at kindergarten and his mom and I were scared to death. Here he was walking into, you know, his first day of kindergarten and how were these kids going to see Adam. And here's this little boy at the door with Adam and he opened the door for Adam and he's just talking to Adam, and they walked in. He didn't see the crutches, just like his mom and I didn't see the crutches and I think that's what sport does. When we put all of these athletes together, you know, whatever be if it's in a chair, or if it's on a sled or whatever it may be. All those go away and it’s just, you know, they're adults, they're kids, you know, they're veterans, whatever it may be, they're just playing sport together. And that just knocks down all the barriers.
Liz Keicher 08:20
Yeah, I think that's key. I think you're breaking down the barriers. And I think that you're really also providing the opportunity for people who aren't disabled to understand that people with disabilities are regular people who enjoy regular things like sports. And you're, you're having the opportunity to kind of, I don't want to say, teach, but without even teaching, you're really just providing the kids who are not disabled on the team with the opportunity to say, oh, yeah, it's just me and so and so hanging out, playing a sport together. I think that just starts to bring about awareness and normalizing accessibility and understanding what using wheelchair might involve, and you just, I think you open up a whole, a whole extra world of things too with players that you're including, who aren’t disabled, to break down barriers that exist between in the world between people with disabilities and without.
Steve Spitz 09:25
I want to just say that the words that come to mind are inclusion and acceptance and integration, and it's just kind of, you know, it's just a cool thing to see.
Liz Keicher 09:34
I think that a lot of times, sometimes the disability access is someone who's not disabled, helping somebody who's disabled and that's not any form of inclusion. You know, I think sports allow the possibility for somebody to say, yeah, let's do this together. Let's play this together. You know, we're playing this as two equal people. And I think that ends up being pretty powerful.
Jeanne Langan 10:00
Tell me a little bit about your experience as parents of children in the sport?
Chris Keicher 10:07
Well, I'll tell you, it's because I also coach at the high school that I teach at. You know, I always sat back and during Emily's sled hockey games, especially and I remember saying to myself, no yelling, no screaming, let the coaches coach. You know, because I'm putting my parent hat on versus being the coach. So, it's a completely different thing. But, you know, I found myself when she was especially in sled and seeing her in her games, during sled hockey, seeing all the different things that she was doing, and, and after every single practice, or after every single game, the first thing Emily always says, when we get in the car is what do I need to work on? You know, and it's like, well, let's talk about the good things you did first. You did a lot of good things. And then you pick one or two things, but there's definitely a different hat between coach and parent. When you're both a coach and a parent, I think it makes it even a little bit more difficult sometimes in the stands.
Jeanne Langan 11:07
That's a good point because all of the parents in here, coached at some time for their children. Do you coach baseball?
Steve Spitz 11:18
Yeah, similar situation, you know, you got to be careful how you approach it then. But tried to be involved as much as I could, as you know, for my kids to see me as a normal part of the team.
Jeanne Langan 11:34
And Norm, I'm sure you've gotten some coaching.
Norm Page 11:35
Yeah, it was, you know, it was an interesting thing, because, you know, I started with Adam’s sled hockey. And as Adam said, I was a water boy, when I started. That was the easiest job to be honest with you. It got much tougher after that. You know, I coached and, you know, helped run the program and then took over the program, and then followed them up to the ranks and got very involved with the national program. And, you know, it's a tough transition from, you know, being his coach and on the ice with him every day as a coach and out on the ice, and then in the gym with him as well. I would be his personal trainer with him in those early years, and then, all of a sudden turning him over to the national team and having, you know, the National coaches, and him being on a national team and traveling internationally. He was young. For his mom and I, it was tough because he was 15 when he made the national team. And, you know, he was just, he was just a kid. And you know, here we're sending them off. I remember his first trip to Japan, and, you know, he's with 20, 30, 40-year-olds, and I know what 20-, 30- and 40-year-old men do. You know, here he's a 15-year-old and you know, it's was a scary time for us, but it was his dream and we were there, but obviously, we weren't with the team. We were, we were parents and I mean, but I think, you know, and we talked about some of the, you know, we think about the moments, but I think it was it was all the moments with Adam and him being true to himself. I mean, because he was, there were times when he was approached with some adult things that, you know, aren't easy, you know, whether it be drugs and alcohol and the things that adults deal with sometimes. Adam was always true to himself, and who he was. And I think, to me, that's more important than the gold medals he received. I think him being who he is as a human being and believing and knowing who he was as a person was, was probably the greatest thing, you know, his mom and I could ever hope for.
Jeanne Langan 13:49
Wow, that is very powerful. Then, from Adam and Emily, have you seen your parents play the sports that you're in?
Emily Keicher 13:58
For me, yeah. Daddy, he coaches it, but sometimes, whenever we do practices, he would just do like a little game with me, and we usually play with each other. Yeah.
Jeanne Langan 14:10
Are your parents good at wheelchair basketball?
Emily Keicher 14:13
Yes, they are. Definitely. Coaching and basketball perspective.
Liz Keicher 14:20
And we do some running, right?
Emily Keicher 14:23
Liz Keicher 14:25
But we do usually put the with headphones on and grind it out, right?
Jeanne Langan 14:30
Adam Page 14:32
I think my dad tried sled hockey once or twice, used my or tried my sled once that I remember and that was it for about five minutes.
Norm Page 14:46
Even his trainer was struggling with it and he's a pretty, pretty strong guy. How do these athletes do it? I mean, they make it look so easy. Oh, my goodness, it was like fighting a boxer for 12 rounds in about three minutes. Yeah, pretty funny.
Jeanne Langan 15:09
What are your thoughts about future endeavors?
Norm Page 15:13
I think the exciting part, you know, and I think everybody's kind of mentioned here is, you know, Steve said it, and said it very well, and it's, it's about, you know, more sports, more opportunities, you know, thinking about those athletes that haven't had the opportunity yet. Because there's an athlete in all of us in one way, shape, or form, and I think, you know, just being able to offer so many different sports. So, all of a sudden, you catch the eye of somebody that maybe hasn't done it, hasn't done anything and said, you know, I'd like to try that. At one time, it was just sled hockey, and, you know, thinking about the future of, you know, anything, you know, any of those sports, anything that can build, you know, self-confidence and self-esteem, that we can give these kids and adults and veterans and, you know, I think that's, I think that's our job to try to do that in all of Buffalo and Western New York, you know, continue to build out the sports and the different things and the opportunities that we can give all of these athletes. Just like anybody else, if they want to try tennis, they should be able to do tennis. If they want to try, you know, volleyball, they should be able to do volleyball. If they want to downhill ski, they should be able to downhill ski or track or, you know, or basketball, whatever it is, I mean, it should be, that should always be, you know, an opportunity for anybody, whether they are disabled or not.
Liz Keicher 16:42
Yeah, I think Norm says it best. It's really about like access and availability and if you can go out and go to the court and play basketball or go do volleyball, you want to have that same opportunity for somebody who's an adaptive athlete, not something where you necessarily have to schedule a time or try to access a very expensive specialized piece of equipment or, you know, really work it in the schedule. But just if you're getting up on a Sunday, and you want to be able to do the sport, you're going out and you have the availability and the access to do it. And I think the more options for sports that people have in the area, the better chance that is, and I think that you the more options you get and can offer to kids from a very young age, the better chance you have of creating lifelong sports fanatics, and people who have access to, you know, sports throughout their entire life. I think I wanted to go back to when we talked about the families and everything. I think that one of the important things on the parent’s side of being out with the athletes is the ability to touch base with other families and like share your story and hear what their story is and share resources and share other sports. And sometimes I think that we get a little isolated, and maybe we're out at a friend's house who isn't disabled. And some of the points that might be things that are topics or things that we're looking at, or avenues we want to talk about. It's not necessarily a shared conversation. But that time I think in the in the in the stands as a parent is your time to also touch base with other parents and talk about medical advances on certain things or talk about challenges you might be facing with schooling or this and really kind of brainstorm and share a lot of information. So, I think that while the kids from our point of view, Emily's getting good amount of teamwork and socializing with people out there, but I know for me as a parent, that's also the opportunity for me to touch base with other parents who might be looking at similar things or facing similar obstacles or looking for similar avenues for things and this is the time to really network and speak with them and, you know, get more answers and also see what other things people are looking to see in the community. So, I think it's a good, its good team building, I think for the parents too, who are in there, you know, who are in the stands.
Norm Page 19:08
It's true and I think all of us who have had those experiences in the hotels and the weekends and, you know, we've all done it. Steve, all of us have been part of all of this. And it was, Liz, put it, put it so, so eloquently that, you know, we learned, you know, it's how we it's how we have learned as parents through other parents. You know, I mean, I remember when Adam was five, and we started, you know, doing this, this whole, this whole journey and it was some of the other parents that helped steer us through some of those early things and some of the scary things that we had to deal with moving forward and, you know, having other parents who had been through it to help us I mean, you can call therapy, you can call it guidance, you can call it, you know, connecting teamwork, whatever it is. Those experiences help us as parents, as much as the athletes on the ice help our kids with being with the other athletes. You know, that's something that, you know, it's really that's where the family really comes into play. It really is a complete family when you're involved with these sports and getting involved. It's the entire family that's gaining so much from all of this from sport and being involved in sport.
Chris Keicher 20:35
Yeah, I mean, we talked about camaraderie with the players on the court or on the ice. It becomes a camaraderie with the parents in the stands. You know, I remember in 2019, and that the last game with Emily was sled hockey, and they won the gold medal, and they won the championship in her league. Here you are, you're high fiving and hugging the person next to you, you don't know, you know, you've been with them, you know, but it was it was like a whole, everybody was just so elated. Obviously, the players on the ice were elated, but the parents in the stands were just high fiving and hugging, seeing tears in everybody's eyes. And, you know, it's a camaraderie thing for everybody who's involved.
Jeanne Langan 21:14
It's great. So, we've talked a lot about sports, where your children played in them, but tell me about some of the recreational activities you might do as a family. Maybe Steve with boating or golfing or things like that, where you're playing with them.
Steve Spitz 21:30
You know, I just try to get out with them in any way I can. If it's not full participation, at least I'm there, you know, and can help, you know, can add my two cents. I can, you know, enjoy watching them. It doesn't have to be full participation for me to enjoy it, you know, for them to just, you know, they want you they want you there regardless. Now, we've done boating together, you know, if they're golfing, I'm out there in the cart, you know, in the cart or wheeling along the cart paths, trying to enjoy it with them. So, you know, any way you can find to be involved, you know, whether it's full participation or not.
Chris Keicher 22:13
And I know with Emily, her and I, we've gone to the driving range, where we'll go to the driving range and I’ll put her in her wheelchair, push her up to the tee, I'll set the ball on the tee, and she'll take her club, line it up and then she'll just hit golf balls off a tee. Then, I'll wheel her off and then I'll go and hit some and then we kind of just alternate back and forth. So, I always love that, especially in the summertime where we have that opportunity to go out and do that.
Liz Keicher 22:41
And we do a good amount, most certainly a little more pre-COVID, but we do a lot of traveling for marathons. We try to find marathons they have kids’ races. So, Emily will do a kids race on the day before or do like a one mile and family will travel in from out of town, so she kind of, she's out there, you know, doing like a one. She did a Marine Corps Marathon, was a mile and four on crutches and then Philadelphia Marathon, I think was close to that too. The Buffalo Marathon, she always participates in some fashion. So, running is kind of like a family sport and it's great that she's able to do that. She can transition that now to doing push rim. You know, I know in my head, I think about the day that she's ready to do a half marathon or a full marathon. I can, she can be doing push rim and I can be substantially far behind her, hoping, hoping that I can cross within an hour of her finishing it.
Chris Keicher 23:37
I'll be holding the sign.
Norm Page 23:41
We've done Wii golf together and we did Ride for Roswell last year together and bowling and things like that. I think the other thing we've been so fortunate with as a family is, you know, the traveling together, the amount of time we spent on the road together and you know, being able to be at, we missed next to nothing as far as everything that he's done and where he's traveled. And, you know, we've done this as a family and with the local program. I think that, you know, I think the one thing sport does for a family is you know, spending that time together. I mean, if we weren't in sport, I know we wouldn't have. I mean, we all, you know, we were together since, you know, the weekends and the time we spent on the road and all those things, that's family time. I feel bad for families that never had the opportunity to spend, you know, countless hours in the hotel rooms and at the games and in home from when he was, you know, just a little boy to you know, when he was winning some gold medals and it's just, you know, his mom and I, you know, to be able to do that with him, it's been an amazing experience. Yes.
Jeanne Langan 25:07
That's great. Anything else you want to share with the listeners out there that we haven't touched on yet?
Norm Page 25:15
I would just say keep trying sports. You know what, if it's something you want to do, do it. Go out, you can do it, there's a way you can do it and don't let anybody tell you, you can’t. I mean, there's things you can do, and we can adapt sport of any kind in any way. Most of it has been done and, you know, look for it out there, wherever you may be. If it's not in Buffalo and Western New York, you know, it's out there across the country. If it's not out there, go start it yourself. Make it happen. Sports does so much for all of our, all of our kids and all of our adults and all of our veterans and so go try it.
Emily Keicher 25:57
Yeah, like Norm said, if there's not a sport that you, that there is and you need to adapt to it, just try to find time to adapt to it yourself. Make your own sport. Do what you love.
Jeanne Langan 26:11
All right. That's a wonderful statement to end on and I'll just remind listeners, that we have Episode One and Two, that covers athletes in the sports they've been in, and how to get equipment, and just about equipment in general. So, thank you, everybody. If there are suggestions for podcast topics or questions for the athletes, please contact us through Greater Buffalo Adaptive Sports. You can reach them through their web page or find them on Facebook. Or you can also reach us through the Rehabilitation Science Department at the University at Buffalo. I’m faculty there and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you to everyone at the UB libraries for helping to produce this podcast. Thanks for listening to the adaptive sports and recreation in Western New York podcast. Have a great day.