Our 2020 Story

2020 was a year unlike any other. Looking back, a virus, quarantines, masks, and shutdowns will be what come to mind. Despite the challenges of this year, we want to reflect on some of the positive highlights our organization experienced in 2020. Amidst a pandemic, we still accomplished some amazing things. Take a look at our 2020 story:

Chapter 1: Business as Usual

Before our lives paused and the world spiraled into a global pandemic, we were business as usual and busier than ever at Adaptive Sports Ohio. Our fall/winter community-based programs were in full swing, as well as our interscholastic wheelchair basketball league. In January, we hosted a power soccer tournament in Indianapolis, with nine teams competing and Team Force finishing with a perfect 4-0 record. Our staff also grew in January, welcoming a new Program Manager, Lizzie, who was tasked with managing our new Cleveland programs. February was a busy month of play as we hosted our 5th Annual Rhino Rumble Wheelchair Rugby Tournament and attended the Silver Stick Sled Hockey Tournament and a Heartland League weekend of play. Our Wildcats Celebrity Sled Hockey Game took place, and some of our young wheelchair basketball players attended a Cavs Wheelchair Basketball Youth Clinic at the Cavaliers’ practice facility, which we partnered with Cavs Youth Sports to put on. Rounding out February was two track trainings, to prepare wheelers and coaches for the upcoming OHSAA track season, and our first-ever Cleveland program sessions with drop-in basketball starting up.

Chapter 2: March Happened

Things took a turn in March as Covid-19 spread like wildfire, engulfing not just a city, state, or even country, but the entire world. Before mandatory shutdowns and mask mandates, we were fortunate to be able to host our 3rd annual Interscholastic Wheelchair Basketball State Championship, where the Wooster Generals won their 3rd consecutive State Championship, defeating the Tallmadge Blue Devils 45-26. On that very same day, Team Force again went undefeated at what ended up being their final power soccer tournament of the season in Fort Wayne. After that, our programs shut down abruptly as everyone began to quarantine. Our power soccer team and sled hockey teams were forced to end their seasons early as the remaining tournaments were cancelled, and wheelchair track and field athletes sadly did not get a spring season.    

Chapter 3: Masks & Mandates & Quarantines, Oh My!

In March, April, and May we all adjusted to working from home. Before stay-at-home orders were announced, our staff utilized the program downtime to inventory all 1,600+ pieces of adaptive equipment and performed maintenance on equipment so that we were ready to go when programs resumed. Despite being quarantined, we managed to stay busy and continue serving our athletes. We received two rounds of funding from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation that allowed us to purchase and deliver groceries and grocery gift cards to our athletes with spinal cord injuries. We moved into a new office space in Youngstown that would allow us to better serve our Mahoning County athletes. During the quarantine period, staff also began working on an exciting and revolutionary new program that we can’t wait to share in early 2021!

Chapter 4: Returning to Play

The second half of 2020 was defined by change and adaptation. In June, we celebrated for the first time in months, as we safely welcomed back some of our athletes to socially-distanced summer programs. Our fitness sessions resumed, and we kicked off tennis, road racing, and softball sessions in Dalton. We implemented enhanced safety protocols, provided PPE to athletes, and created innovative new session formats that minimized close-contact interactions during participation. An exciting new feature of our summer programming that came out of these enhanced safety measures was the first iteration of our ASPO Open Tennis Tournament. In addition to a weekly practice session, players competed in matches once per week in a round-robin format that resulted in a singles tennis tournament at the end of the season. Summer programs also kicked off in Youngtown and Cleveland, with tennis sessions in Youngstown and tennis and handcycling clinics in Cleveland. We welcomed two more full-time staff members to the team, Karen, our new Youngstown Program Manager, and Sara, our administrative assistant. We received another round of funding for grocery deliveries in July, this time from the Akron Community Foundation, which we delivered to our youth athletes in Summit County. In August, our annual Casey’s Challenge 5K successfully transitioned to a virtual race, with participants able to complete the race on their own time using any route they choose. Racers received beautiful finisher medals and t-shirts and made the best of their virtual race experience. That same month we also moved our headquarters into a different office space in Wooster.  

In September, we received exciting news as The President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, & Nutrition recognized us as a NYSS Champion for our work promoting youth sports participation and supporting the National Youth Sports Strategy. October was an exciting month with some of our fall sports returning to play. Wooster drop-in basketball held their first sessions of the fall and sled hockey returned to play in Wooster, Youngstown, and Cleveland. October was also highlighted by the launch of our beautiful new logo and website, followed by our second virtual event, our 2nd annual A Chance to Play Gala. In November, we welcomed our rugby and power soccer athletes back to practice in Wooster and held our first-ever sled hockey practices in Cleveland. Before Covid-19 cases drastically rose, we hosted our annual Wildcat Winter Slam Sled Hockey Tournament, although on a smaller than usual scale. To round out this wild year, some of our interscholastic wheelchair basketball teams got back to practice and ASPO staff held 2 basketball coaches trainings and our first wheelchair basketball referee training. Finally, we worked to help get new legislation introduced that would fix major issues with handicapped parking in the state of Ohio.

Chapter 5: Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021!

In 2020, we may not have had as many in-person program sessions as we would have liked or are used to, but we still accomplished a lot of great things that we’ll take into the new year. In 2021, we hope to return to a more normal routine and welcome back many more athletes to programs while resuming our typical in-person events. Like many, we’re excited to leave this year in the rearview and can’t wait to see what 2021 has in store for us!