Adapted sports present social opportunity for many South students


South adapted hockey players face-off in a February 16 game against South Suburban Flyers. South lost 4-6.

Nadia Spock, Staff writer

These days it seems that high school sports are primarily geared towards physical rigor and creating a fierce sense of competition. But at South, the adapted sports teams have taken a different approach when it comes to physical activity.

“I work with kids who just want to have fun,” shared South adapted hockey coach Londell French. After the team recently won against a team they hadn’t beaten in three years, French explained that although he enjoys a victory, he believes that participating in an adapted sport is more of an opportunity for students to gain social experience. French added that participating in an adapted sport offers students who may have been teased to discover a close group of friends.

Although adapted soccer and bowling coach Jim Christy also wants to ensure that the players are having fun, he said, “I never coach to lose.” Christy explained, “With winning comes teaching skills”, such as learning to be a good loser, or winner, depending on the situation.

There are two different divisions of adapted sports, cognitive impairment (CI) and physical impairment (PI). “The rules are modified for all types of disabilities,” said Christy. Although South does not offer the option of competing as part of the CI division, South is the only school in the district to specifically take part in the PI division. In order to qualify to play in the PI division at South, you must have a permanent physical disability.

Senior Rishauna Anderson-Itzen explained that a typical adapted hockey practice consists of running as well as practicing a variety of drills, which have proven to be beneficial, for she feels that there has been a change in her physical abilities. Christy added that adapted sports require the “same range of motions” used in the original version of the sport.

Senior Zach Rice, who partakes in adapted soccer, hockey, and softball, said that “communicating with each other” is just one of many things he enjoys about playing adapted sports. A fellow senior and teammate Leiland Fox said that by hanging out with friends on the team, his “attitude towards people has improved.”

Similar to many sports at South, the adapted sports teams spend a lot of time playing teams outside of the city. While competing against teams in other cities, Fox said that he enjoys traveling together as a team.

“The crowds are more intimate,” observed French, with regards to the difference of adapted spots from typical high school sports. The games have begun to act as a location for parents to support each other and their children. Although there is no shortage of encouragement from family members, French senses a lack of a attendance from other South high students.

French shared that he believes his fellow staff member Christy has had a major influence on the advancement of the adapted sports programs at South. Christy, who has been a long time member of the Metro Association for Adapted Athletics (MAAA), was recently inducted into the Minnesota Adapted Sports Hall of Fame. French said about Christy, “He got the teams going.”