PHOTO #1: From left, Bad News Chairs founder Danny Camacho and Parks & Recreation coordinator Alex Aguero pose for a photo with the footballs and hula hoops that were used for an adaptive Punt Pass Kick competition Oct. 22 outside the Challenged Athletes Dream Complex
PHOTO #2: Otis Ortiz with the Bad News Chairs, a local adaptive sports team, prepares to throw a football through a hula hoop held by Sports Tourism Manager Michelle Myers as part of the adaptive Punt Pass Kick competition Oct. 22 outside the Challenged Athletes Dream Complex.
As the City of Victoria Parks & Recreation expands the sports programs it offers to residents and visitors, staff are working to ensure that all types of sports and all types of athletes are included.
“We’re excited about bringing more opportunities for inclusive sports to Victoria,” said Sports Tourism Manager Michelle Myers. “We want to help normalize the idea that someone with a disability should have the same access to athletic competition as any other person.”
On Oct. 22, Parks & Recreation hosted the nation’s first adaptive Punt Pass Kick competition outside the Challenged Athletes Dream Complex in partnership with the Bad News Chairs, a local adaptive sports team that works to raise awareness of adaptive sports and provide competitive and social opportunities.
“The Bad News Chairs have been fantastic partners,” Myers said. “They’ve cultivated a great following, and their mission of promoting awareness, advocacy and inclusion ties in with everything we want to do for our community and visitors.”
Bad News Chairs founder Danny Camacho, who has been an adaptive sports advocate for more than 20 years, explained that many types of sports can be adapted for wheelchair users.
For the adaptive Punt Pass Kick competition, also called “Punt Pass Dash,” competitors were able to throw a football instead of punting it. The “pass” portion was an accuracy contest, with competitors throwing footballs through hula hoops at various distances. The last part of the competition was a 40-yard dash.
“These types of events can change people’s perspectives on people with disabilities,” Camacho said. “Being in a wheelchair has allowed me to have coaching, playing and speaking opportunities all over the country, and now I want to focus on the younger generation and let them know that even if you have an accident that changes your life, you can still compete.”
This year, the City will again partner with the Bad News Chairs to host wheelchair basketball as part of the TAAF Winter Games of Texas, with the Bad News Chairs’ David Crook serving as the event coordinator. The two organizations will also host an adaptive tennis competition in the spring.
Both events will be sanctioned, meaning that they will follow the official rules of their respective governing bodies. Sanctioned events are attractive to athletes who hope to improve their overall rankings.
“We’ve always had help and support from the City, but now we are working more closely with Parks & Recreation,” Camacho said. “I’ve spoken with Michelle about different types of adaptive sports that we may be able to offer, and we are looking forward to bringing even more awesome events to Victoria.”
To learn more about Parks & Recreation events and programs, visit www.victoriatx.gov/parks.