advocating for student athletes with disabilities

Presented by Dan McCoy
Daniel McCoy
Sophomore at University of Pittsburgh
Native of Pittsburgh
Graduated from Fox Chapel Area High School
I am here today to advocated for student athletes
with disabilities.
Disabled Since Birth
I am a person with disabilities
My disabilities are:
 Spina Bifida
 Arnold Chiari Syndrome Type I
 Hydrocephalus
Always Active
From an early age, I participated in
adaptive and non-adaptive team sports
Flag Football
I have also participated in these
 Snow Skiing
 Biking
 Rowing
I Am An Athlete
By middle school, I realized that
competition trumps inclusion in
 Still wanted to compete
Focused on Sled Hockey
 The Mighty Penguins
 Began competing in US and Canada
when I was 8
Setting a BIG Goal
“I want to play sled hockey in the
 USA won GOLD in 2002
 Team USA jersey
With support from family and coaches
…and hard work
 Selected to the US Jr National Sled Hockey Team
at age 14
 Selected to the USA Men’s National Sled Hockey
Team at age 16
The NCAA and Student Athletes
NCAA offers tremendous and well-deserved
support for student athletes
 These athletes attend college and participate in NCAA
recognized sports
 They have the potential to receive financial support
 Athletic Scholarships for Div I and II
 Academic Scholarships for Div III
 Academic via tutoring
 As of September 2012, there are over 450,000 student
athletes in the NCAA
Student Athletes with Disabilities
Student athletes with cognitive and/or physical disabilities
exist in the university setting!
 Many student athletes with disabilities have been training just as
long and just as hard as their non-disabled peers
 Many are participating in IPC recognized sports both nationally and
 Many have been accepted to NCAA recognized universities and
Yet, we are not afforded the same benefits as NCAA
student athletes (without disabilities)
Why Is This Important to Me?
Sports CAN open doors but …
an education WILL KEEP the doors open
 Participation in sports helps develop an individual’s character
 Learning how to handle winning and losing develops who you become off
the ice/field
 Sled Hockey taught me how to handle success and failure
 Given me the ability to believe I can set a goal and achieve it
Sled hockey has helped me become the person I am today but…
…being both a college student and an athlete has been tough
Balancing Academics and Competition
Freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh was a challenge
 I had a full course load and was a member of the US Men’s National
Sled Hockey team
 Was traveling once a month to 5 day training camps
 Was traveling to competitions
 Calgary
 North Carolina
 South Korea
 An honor student in high school, I found myself struggling to
maintain average grades
Seeking Support
Disability Services supported me in disability-related issues
 Navigating the campus in a wheelchair
 Room and board
 Test scheduling
Had to advocate for myself with National team travel
commitments and missed classes/work
 Professors were understanding to a point
 Weren’t required to be
 Played catch-up both semesters
 Returned from international competition to take finals
Contrasting Support
Most NCAA Student Athletes have a built in academic
support structure
 Academic needs are addressed in order to ensure
 Tutors are provided
 Schedules are balanced against competition
NCAA Student Athletes advocate for self (with a
backup system)
If the NCAA recognized adaptive sports, universities and
colleges would more easily embrace students athletes
with disabilities
 Currently two dozen universities and colleges recognize a
few adaptive sports as part of their athletic programs
 University of New Hampshire
 Edinboro University
 University of Pittsburgh is currently not on the list
The Paralympics
I was recently selected to the 2014
US Paralympic Sled Hockey Team
 We will be competing in Sochi Russia
March 7-16, 2014
 We will be defending our GOLD
medal from the 2010 Paralympics in
 Part-time this semester to focus on
Proud to be at PITT!
Very honored to be attending the University of
 I want to succeed in both academics and sports
 I want to graduate from Pitt!
And, I know the University of Pittsburgh will lead
in advocating for student athletes with

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