Wheelchair Sports Federation
Wheelchair Tennis Champion: ‘My disability doesn’t stop me from anything’ Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   

By Doree Lewak - New York Post 6-3-2019

 

Joanna Nieh, 17, is the top-ranked player coming to the Jana Hunsaker Memorial Wheelchair Tennis Tournament on Thursday through Sunday. Tamara Beckwith/NY Post

With her mighty forehand, Joanna Nieh sends a ball blistering past her opponent. “Nice point,” the other player cries.

More impressive is that the forehand was delivered from a wheelchair, which is how Nieh, a 17-year-old Upper West Sider, plays tennis. Now the No. 1-ranked player in the US girls-singles wheelchair category, is competing June 6 to June 9 at the Jana Hunsaker Memorial Wheelchair Tennis Tournament in Flushing Meadows, Queens.

“I think that my disability doesn’t stop me from anything,” says Nieh, who has spina bifida, a birth defect that paralyzed her legs and led to at least 15 surgeries in her young life. “I think that I’m just like anyone else playing sports.”

The soft-spoken teen prefers to let her skill do the talking.

“The only thing she says on court is ‘out,’ ” says Nieh’s dad, Jason, a computer-science professor at Columbia. “She’s a sweet, nice girl until she gets on the tennis court — then she wants to kill you.”

 

Tamara Beckwith/NY Post

Nieh was 5 years old or so when she attended Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day at the US Open, and picked up her first racket soon after. For years, she played while on crutches, which she often uses to get around off-court. But as her tennis skills improved, she yearned for more mobility. “It was always fun, but I couldn’t move around,” she tells The Post.

That changed once she acquired a $3,000 customized wheelchair, with wheels that angle out for stability. “I can do an overhead smash and I serve overhand just like most other players,” she says.

The only rule change in wheelchair tennis is that players are allowed two bounces, not one, to hit the ball. Nieh plays for her school’s varsity tennis team and plays against opponents of all abilities. And while she hasn’t faced outright adversity, she loves to defy skeptics: “I’m small, young and in a wheelchair, so I probably get underestimated from time to time.”

The greatest challenge, she says, is holding her racket while moving the chair, and learning how to get around her inability to move side to side.

 

Tamara Beckwith/NY Post

Nieh makes a return during a recent practice session.

 Meanwhile, she says she finds inspiration from other people with disabilities, “who show what they can do and how good they can be, whether it be sports or music or anything else. Last night I saw guys playing instruments with their feet — one playing a guitar and another one playing the drums, which I thought was really inspirational.”

In between her SAT studies, physics, pre-calculus and Mandarin lessons, she spends six days a week on tennis practice and training, including a weekly adaptive tennis program at Riverside Park with other kids in wheelchairs.

Nieh’s played tournaments around the world — in Italy, Argentina, Belgium and France — and considers it an honor to represent the US. “I really like going to Europe,” she says. She also likes collecting trophies, which crowd her desk at home.

She’s even brushed tennis elbows with the sport’s royalty, having been chosen to helm the coin toss between Madison Keys and Naomi Osaka at last year’s US Open women’s semifinals. “That was really cool,” she says, with a grin.

As for the future: Nieh says she definitely plans to attend college — “as long as I can play tennis.”

 
19th Annual Jana Hunsaker Memorial Wheelchair Tennis Tournament Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   

From Thursday June 6th to Sunday June 9th, 2019, over 40 wheelchair tennis players participated in the 19th Annual Jana Hunsaker Memorial Wheelchair Tennis Tournament at the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center in Queens, NY.  Here is a list of award recipients:

 

 

 

 Division A Singles Winner & Doubles Winner - Christopher Kelley

Division A Singles Finalist & Doubles Finalist - Jody Lawhead
Division A Singles Consolation Winner & Doubles Finalist - Joanna Nieh

 

 

 

Division A Doubles Winner - Brian Davis 

Division B Singles Winner - Christopher St. Remy

Division B Singles Finalist & Doubles Winner - Lynn Seidermann

Division B Consolation Winner - Lesly St. Louis

Division B Doubles Winner - William Lehr

Division B Doubles Finalist - Thomas Dodd

Division B Doubles Finalist - Curt Leatherbee

 

 

 

Division C Singles Winner & Doubles Finalist - Alex Goldmeier

Division C Finalist & Doubles Winner - Aare Adebayo Saheed

Division C Consolation Winner - Johnny Tejada

Division C Doubles Winner - Max Wong  

Division C Doubles Finalist - Andre Lambert

 

 

 

Division D Singles Winner & Doubles Finalist - Joseph Dowling

Division D Singles Finalist & Doubles Finalist - Katherine Valdez

Division D Consolation Winner & Doubles Winner - Ash Bonoan
Division D Doubles Winner - Sasha Blair-Goldensohn

 

19th Annual Jana Hunsaker Memorial Wheelchair Tennis Tournament
George McFadden Award
Joanna Nieh
 
 

19th Annual Jana Hunsaker Memorial Wheelchair Tennis Tournament
Al Youakim Spirit Award
Whitney Kraft

All participants competed at the highest level and enjoyed playing at one of the best Tennis Facilities in the World.  Thanks to our sponsors for making it possible, USTA, All-American Bagel, NYC Parks and the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center. 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 June 2019 23:52
 
Paralympic Powerlifter - Garrison Redd Aims to Raise Others Up Too Print E-mail
Written by Cure Nation   

  

Garrison Redd is a native of Brooklyn, New York.  He is a TEDx Speaker, Team USA Paralympic powerlifter, model, and most of all an advocate for disabled rights.  As the co-founder of the Garrison Redd Project (GRP), he aims to improve access to resources for individuals with disabilities. 

Garrison started GRP in 2017 after facing a number of barriers due to his own T12 incomplete spinal cord injury.  “When I had the initial onset of my injury, back when I was 17 years old, I felt that there weren’t a lot of resources out there and I had to go searching for a lot of things on my own. I wanted to make that easier for others.”  We hope you’ll enjoy his journey here on the CURE NATION!

THE GARRISON REDD PROJECT TAKES FLIGHT

The Garrison Redd Project (GRP) is meant to be a central organization where anyone can reach out to inquire about life with a disability. Through GRP, Garrison encourages others to pursue dreams they felt their disability prevented them from doing and provides peer support to those who need it most. He helps others in the community to “find themselves” and gives individuals with disabilities a chance to learn from one another.

Garrison feels that “if individuals with disabilities had a platform to showcase some of their abilities, then the world would become more insightful and more understanding that individuals with disabilities are capable of doing anything that an able-bodied individual can do.”  It’s a sentiment that he embodies in his own life.

 

Garrison surrounds himself with like-minded people who want to help others succeed too, like his friends Cole and Charisma who host the Roll with Cole YouTube show.

Garrison was always good at math and wanted to put those skills to use as a day trader so he completed a Bachelor’s degree in Finance at York College. In hindsight, Garrison admits that if he knew then what he knows now, he probably would have taken a different direction and pursued something more like public administration or social work (though his background in Finance does help him successfully run the Garrison Redd project).  He is planning to go back to school to further his work in non-for-profit management.

“When you start school, you’re 18 and still figuring things out,” he explains. “Now that I’m 30 and my life has changed drastically, I’m more interested in helping others.”

GARRISON EXPERIENCED EMPLOYMENT WOES AFTER HIS INJURY

Graduating from his university really opened Garrison’s eyes to the realities of being a person with a disability.  He was turned down for over 60 jobs in a three-year time span.

“I had a really hard time finding employment, and these were positions that any individual sitting down would be able to do.  That was really discouraging.”  Garrison realized he was not alone after looking at the unemployment statistics of people with disabilities and these disappointing statistics are what drove him to start GRP.

 

Garrison often speaks to community groups as a means of educating on disability and topics like employment, sports and more.

“I feel that the disability community is a large community that, if we all stick together, we can showcase the things we CAN do and create more opportunities for us.”

Garrison gets involved in whatever way he can within his community. He began modelling and acting after a friend encouraged him to audition for an Apple commercial showcasing the inclusive features of the Apple Watch.

He’s involved with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, and he dances with Heidi Latsky Dance company. The Heidi Latsky Dance company is welcoming to everyone and Garrison appreciates the opportunity to move, stretch, and just kickback and relax while he works out with the dance group.

 

A dynamic speaker and model, Garrison strives to create more employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

A WILLINGNESS TO TRY SOMETHING NEW LED GARRISON TO ADAPTED SPORTS

After being approached about playing adapted football at his local gym, Garrison was introduced to parasports and his athletic career really took off. Initially not a fan of football, he tried it anyways and met John Hamre of the Wheelchair Sports Federation.  John told Garrison that he had the potential to be a Paralympian and connected the burgeoning sports star to the track and field team.  Being a part of the track and field team introduced Garrison to shotput, javelin, and discuss throwing.

Though Garrison enjoyed track as a competitive sport, transportation to and from practice became too much of a commitment (the New York Subway system isn’t always the easiest to navigate from an accessibility standpoint). He also felt that the coaches weren’t as dedicated to his practice as he was.

He moved on to trying wheelchair racing with the New Jersey Navigators – but again, interstate transportation was a bit of a mess to overcome so he could participate.  That’s when Garrison discovered his athletic passion for power lifting.

 

GARRISON TRANSFORMS INTO A POWER-LIFTING SUPERSTAR

Just over two years ago that, Garrison entered his first power lifting competition. At the time, he didn’t know anything about powerlifting and hadn’t been training but managed to lift a staggering 250 lbs even though he only weighs in at 120 lbs himself! Officials at the meet were astounded with his performance and just two days later, Garrison got an email asking him to try out for Team USA ParaPowerlifting.

Or, as he tells it, “Saturday, I knew nothing about it and on Monday they’re telling me I’m the cream of the crop and one of the strongest adapted powerlifters in the Nation.”

What a frenzied introduction to the sport!

VIDEO: WATCH GARRISON QUALIFY FOR THE PARALYMPICS

Garrison has been training for competitive power-lifting ever since that first frenzied week, learning everything about safety and the most effective training methods. This past February, he attended his first Para-Powerlifting National meet and lifted a whopping 275 lbs, qualifying him to go to Kazakhstan and possibly on from there to the Para Pan-American Games in Peru.

His current level of achievement is absolutely astounding given that Garrison hasn’t even been officially power-lifting for a year!  July will mark one year since he started competing.

Even though he is physically ready to compete (and win), as well as being on track to make the Paralympic team, Garrison is struggling to find funding as an emerging athlete and is always looking for new sponsors.

GARRISON’S ADVICE FOR NEW ATHELETES: PASSING IT ON

When asked for advice he would give new or aspiring athletes, Garrison encourages them to “think outside the box.  Don’t just go for sports you are 100% interested in.  Sometimes, a good sport for you is something you have no knowledge about. You just have to go for it, there are so many sports out there! Try everything!”

Stay in touch with Garrison by following his Facebook page here.

 

Garrison Redd and Cure Advocate Andrea Dalzell enjoyed catching up at the 2019 NY Metro Abilities Expo!

GARRISON SHARES HIS TWO CENTS ON CURE MEDICAL

We were thrilled to meet Garrison Redd in person as we welcomed him to the CURE NATION earlier this year during the New York Metro Abilities Expo.  We had a wonderful time sharing stories with him and other community leaders like Andrea DalzellChris Collin and Christine Selinger who are also part of the CURE NATION online.

As an avid supporter of the disability community, Garrison was positively encouraged when he learned about all of the ways that Cure Medical helps people who self-cath.

“I love that the Cure Medical website is a centralized spot for everything you need to know about quality catheters, as well as the hub for the CURE NATION blog stories,” Garrison explains.

“Thanks to Cure Medical for creating another place, right here, where we can all learn from each other!” he adds.

 

To request free samples of the Cure Catheter® or any Cure Medical catheter, contact your local distributor of quality healthcare products, or click here.

 
Silk City Arts Wheelchair Basketball Exhibition Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   

 

(photo taken by Tomaz Tomanek) 

Silk City Arts and the Wheelchair Sports Federation and the other sponsors had a wheelchair basketball game on Saturday May 25th, 2019 in Paterson NJ.  All had an amazing day!  We want to thank everyone involved that volunteered their time and effort.  Thank you to commissioners Manny Martinez, Emanuel Capers and Councilman Al Abdelaziz for playing.  Thank you to the city of Paterson and the Dr. Hani Awadallah School for hosting.

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 May 2019 00:55
 
2019 USA Hockey Sled Hockey National Championship Print E-mail
Written by Bill Hannigan   
Congratulations to the Chicago Black Hawks Sled Hockey Team on winning the 2019 USA Hockey National Championship in Wesley Chapel, FL on April 7, 2019 by defeating the Gaylord Wolfpack by a score of 6 to 2.
   
We also want to highlight the Tampa Bay Lightning Sled Hockey Team who only 3 years ago competed in their first National Championship in San Jose TX and recorded zero goals. This year, they won their 2nd National Championship for Tier IV.  Again, congratulations to all the Adaptive Athletes, family members, sponsors and especially USA Hockey for all their hard work and dedication.
  
 
Last Updated on Saturday, 20 April 2019 22:29
 
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