Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and “Disabled” Student Athletes

Originally Published in the November edition of the ACPA’s Commission for Recreation and Athletics Newsletter and December’s ACPA Standing Committee on Disability Newsletter.

Last January, the U.S. Department of Educations’ office of Civil Rights created a “dear colleague” letter in which it declared that public institutions needed to offer equal athletic opportunities for disabled athletes under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.  The move marked a significant shift in how we view access to athletics and recreation within an educational context.  Equal access was no longer just a gender issue.  In my opinion, the circle of inclusivity has grown and is a win for the disabled community.

With all this in mind little is known about how this rule is going to be enforced or what exactly this will look like for the average school.    Many of the implications are a little cloudy right now.  There is one aspect, however, that is not murky: the right to try out.  [READ MORE]

Preparing High School Athletes to Play at the Next Level

Originally Published in the Summer 2013 Edition of GamePlans: Official Newsletter of the Michigan High School Athletic Association

There’s nothing better than working with student-athletes.  As a high school coach I vowed to get as many of my players to the next level as possible since involvement in a college program is one of the best experiences possible.  I wanted to prepare them on as many levels as I could.   When I transitioned into the college ranks I became frustrated when we received players who had no idea what college and college football demanded.  As someone with an education background there were certain concepts I was aware of and tried to incorporate into my practice that would make my students better people, not just better football players.

This article will explain some fundamental tips that will help us prepare our athletes for collegiate success- both on and off the field. [READ MORE]

Career Exploration and Student Athletes

Also appeared in the December 2011, ACPA Commission for Recreation and Athletics Newsletter

It has been a few years since I coached college football.  There are lots of things that I miss about it like the first day of fully padded practice, late nights breaking down film,  scrimmages and of course, game day.  I also miss my players and not just the coaching part.  Developing relationships with players creates a bond that is unique to those in student affairs administration.  That’s right, I said it, coaches are student affairs administrators; especially at the small, NAIA institutions I used to work at.  One thing that I always tried to work with my players on was career development.  Many athletes   in the NAIA and Division III pay for the education through financial aid and   family contributions.  Athletic scholarships (if any) cover a   fraction of the tuition, room, board and miscellaneous expenses   associated with getting a college degree.  Most would graduate with significant student debt, making the question: what do you want to do when   you graduate an increasingly important one.[READ MORE]

Reflections of a “Disabled” College Athlete

Also Printed in the ACPA Standing Committee on Disability Winter 2011 Newsletter and can be found:.

Athletics has always been in my blood.  From the first time I watched Hulk Hogan bodyslam Andre the Giant to watching the San Francisco 49ers dominate the NFL during the 80‘s, I knew I wanted to compete on the biggest scale possible.  On the surface, this was an unrealistic goal.  I was missing fingers and had shortened forearms, who was I to compete with “able-bodied” athletes in anything other than soccer?  I remember my surgeon trying to push me to compete in the Special Olympics as a swimmer but my fear of the deep end quickly killed that dream. [READ MORE]