Katie Feirer never played a sport before transferring to Michigan State University, now she’s a regular. She plays tennis, ping pong, basketball, and hockey weekly.
“I played tennis my first summer here, and I met peter. He was always interested in starting up this club so this was his first year to kind of get it going,” she says.
The club she is talking about is MSU’s Adaptive Sports and Recreation Club. Started by Graduate Student Piotr Pasik in September of 2014, this club uses adapted equipment and re imagined rules to open up participation and competition to people of all abilities.
There are 20 regular members in the club but attendance changes weekly. Pasik says,” The way I run this, its an open practice so people come when they can but our numbers are very steady.”
Pasik says many people with obvious disabilities get a PE waiver in Middle School and High School, what he does in this club is the opposite.
” I give someone a waiver and say you sign this and you acknowledge that there’s some risk involved but we will help facilitate.,” he says.
Feirer’s disability is Cerebral Palsy with spasticity down the right side of her body making participation in sports difficult, but not impossible.
“Its just cool to see how we can all do something, we just do it a little differently,” she says.
The Adaptive Sports and Recreation Club works with the MSU Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities as well as the Kinesiology and Engineering departments for funding, volunteers, and adaptive equipment.
“Thats why were called the MSU adaptive sports and recreation club, because with our resources and with the different adaptive equipment that we get and with the help of our volunteers we make participation in sports possible for all of our athlete members,” Pasik says.
Athletes like Feirer have already started noticing benefits from sports both in the club and outside on their own.
” It was actually really awesome to figure out how much strength I actually have,” she says. Pasik adds that playing a sport and being a part of a team is not only good physically but emotionally as well.
” You never know what you’re capable of until you try and it and theres really a lot of options out there to facilitate participation in sports for individuals of all abilities,” he says.
More information on adaptive recreation or other resources for persons with disabilities can be found on RCPD.MSU.EDU.