Following a spinal cord injury in 1993, Anthony Meadows spent six months in the hospital. After, as he was adjusting to life in a wheelchair, he happened by The Center for People with Physical Challenges in Tulsa, and his life changed. He discovered that, despite what he previously believed, people in wheelchairs do play basketball.

Meadows went on to get a scholarship to Oklahoma State University for wheelchair basketball. But today, his true love is wheelchair tennis – and he makes his living as the adaptive sports coordinator at The Center. There, he makes others’ dreams about playing sports with a disability come true.

Hosted by the University of Central Oklahoma, the Endeavor Games celebrate their 25th anniversary this year. Photo courtesy UCO

“So basically, anything that needs any adaptability when it comes to any physical recreation,” says Meadows, “[center members] come through me and we make sure that we have accommodations for their individual needs.”

Meadows and others at The Center offer members the opportunity to play a wide range of adaptive sports including wheelchair softball, wheelchair pickleball, power soccer, para powerlifting, boccia ball and many others. There are opportunities for recreational play as well as competitive leagues.

One competitive opportunity for adaptive sports athletes is the Endeavor Games, hosted by the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. The event celebrates its 25th year in June. 

The Endeavor Games is one of the largest events of its kind in the nation. This annual four-day competition offers sports including track and field, cycling, wheelchair basketball, indoor and outdoor archery, air rifle shooting, powerlifting, swimming, sitting volleyball, table tennis and wheelchair softball.

Photo courtesy UCO

“There’s lots to do, and there’s lots of fun,” says Katie Feirer, event coordinator with the department of wellness and sport at UCO. “There are competitions and then there are also opportunities for purely recreational [play].” 

Feirer, an adaptive sport athlete herself, enjoys hockey, tennis and soccer.

Meadows and Feirer both emphasize the opportunities for volunteering with adaptive sports events. There are a lot of ways to get involved through The Center and with the Endeavor Games. 

These opportunities for adaptive sports are most important, however, for people with disabilities – allowing them to compete on an equal playing field with others. 

Adaptive sport athletes can improve in their sport and improve their everyday life through sport. Meadows encourages those he works with to be inspired by the achievements of those who have come before. Feirer agrees.

“[Adaptive sport] puts us on an even playing field. Endeavor Games gives you the opportunity to just enter as yourself, have fun, compete and enjoy the experience.”

Photo courtesy The Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges

Prepping for the Paralympics 

In addition to serving local members, The Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges is a Paralympic training site for wheelchair basketball and para powerlifting. This means that traveling teams or individual athletes training for upcoming Paralympic games can go to The Center and have everything they need to train while they are in Oklahoma, says Meadows. 

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