College working to add adaptive athletics


Pima Community College has always been a place where students can showcase their talents and abilities. PCC is working to expand opportunities by adding an adaptive athletics program.

The provost’s office, disabled student resources and the athletic department are working on the project.

Dolores Durán-Cerda, senior assistant to the provost, said an adaptive athletics program would be great for both the Tucson community and the college but implementation is a lengthy process.

“Getting enough people interested and raising more money are the first things that need happen,” Durán-Cerda said.

PCC program specialist Gabe Nyrkkanen said the college is gauging community support.

“The big thing we need to find out is if the community is interested in this,” Nyrkkanen said. “We have to make sure there’s buy-in.”

On Nov. 25,  the college hosted four Paralympic athletes from Tucson for a panel discussion and documentary screening at the Downtown Campus.

The Team USA athletes included former PCC student Derrick Helton and Chad Cohn from the U.S. Wheelchair Rugby team.

University of Arizona student Jennifer Poist from the U.S. Wheelchair Basketball team and Jenny Goeckel from the U.S. Wheelchair Track and Field team also attended.

The Paralympians discussed the benefits and demands of adaptive athletics.

The discussion followed a screening of the Academy Award-nominated “Murderball,” a documentary about the USA Wheelchair Rugby team’s pursuit of the 2004 Paralympics gold medal.

“These individuals are inspiring because of the work and dedication they have invested into their craft,” Durán-Cerda said.

If PCC implements an adaptive athletics program, it would become the first community college in the country to do so, Nyrkkanen said.

A few universities offer adaptive athletics, including the University of Arizona. The UA program offers men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball, quad rugby, tennis, track and road racing.

“The UA probably has the best program, and other good programs are in Texas and Alabama,” Poist said.

Pima’s program would need to fit practices and game scheduling in with already-existing sports.

“It could be like a student club, so there could be more leeway,” Durán-Cerda said.

“If it grows, then it’ll be an evolutionary thing,” Nyrkkanen added.


Paralympic athletes discuss adaptive athletics during a PCC forum. (Photo courtesy of PCC)


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