THE DISABILITY EXPERIENCE CONFERENCE ADVOCATING FOR STUDENT ATHLETES WITH DISABILITIES Presented by Dan McCoy Introduction 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 Basketball Flag Football Karate Lacrosse T-Ball I have also participated in these activities: Snow Skiing Biking Rowing I Am An Athlete By middle school, I realized that competition trumps inclusion in sports 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 Paralympics!” 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 internationally Many have been accepted to NCAA recognized universities and colleges 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 eligibility Tutors are provided Schedules are balanced against competition NCAA Student Athletes advocate for self (with a backup system) Advocating 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 Vancouver Part-time this semester to focus on training Proud to be at PITT! Very honored to be attending the University of Pittsburgh 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 disabilities!