In just over a year, the Ball State University power soccer team went from non-existent to national contenders. The team placed fourth in both the 2009 United States Power Soccer Association (USPSA) National Championship in June and Americas Champions Cup in October.
The Americas Cup “went really well,” said Natalie Russo, club president and team captain. “We ended up getting 2nd in our pool and won our morning game down a player.” She added that the team “played Sudden Impact for third place—a repeat of the nationals game—and lost,” giving them 4th place.
Placing fourth nationally “was phenomenal being a first year team,” said Cardinal Team Manager Karen Russo. She attributes the success to having a diverse skill set among the players. The team consisted of two Team USA players, a division one player, a division two player, and three first-time players. “It was really interesting trying to even out the skills to bring the new people up,” she said, “and for the more experienced players to be able to carry the team.”
Power soccer is one of the fastest-growing, competitive sports for power wheelchair users. It was created in the 1970s in France and introduced to the United States ten years later. Over the past 40 years, power soccer has grown in popularity, resulting in the formation of USPSA, which governs power soccer in the United States.
The concept of power soccer is similar to traditional soccer. The 4-on-4 game is played on a standard-sized basketball court with goals at each end and comprised of two twenty-minute sessions separated by a ten-minute intermission. The object of the game is to maneuver the ball past the opposing team’s goal line. Prior to the formation of the current power soccer team, students played power soccer during the weekly adaptive recreation program aimed at providing accessible activities for campus and community members.
“We had a team about four years ago,” said Karen, “but after the season was over, the team dissolved.” The current Ball State team was founded in October 2008 by J.C. and Natalie Russo and became the first university-sponsored power soccer team in the United States. A callout meeting in fall 2008 resulted in seven athletes who went on to form the Ball State Cardinals, a division-one power soccer team. Fundraising efforts and support from Ball State’s Disabled Student Development office assist with meeting the team’s needs. Last year, the team received funding from Power Soccer of Indy as part of a program that gives first-year teams money to assist with registration. In the future, the team hopes to request sport club allocations from the Office of Recreation Services to assist with registration fees and other expenses.
In addition to playing on the Cardinals team, J.C. and Natalie were selected to attend the Team USA Selection Camp in November 2009 to try out for the team. Previously, both J.C. and Natalie were part of Team USA, which went on to win the first Powerchair Football World Cup in Japan in 2007. After tryouts concluded this year, J.C. was selected to play on Team USA during the 2011 World Cup.
Although it’s only in its second year, power soccer is increasing in popularity among powerchair users on campus. Since its inception, the Ball State power soccer team has doubled in size. Last year, there was one team, the Ball State Cardinals. This past fall, power soccer added a second team, Cardinal Fury—a division-two team. “This year, in September, we had another callout,” said Karen, “we had 19 kids show up to play soccer.” Now, between the two teams, more than 15 students meet in Irving Gym 2 on Thursday evenings to practice, play soccer, and prepare for competitions.
Brandon Scott, a transfer student from Purdue University, said he had a neighbor during high school who played power soccer, but prior to coming to Ball State he was never involved in the sport. After Brandon decided to attend Ball State, Larry Markle, director of Disabled Student Development, introduced him to Natalie. Now, Brandon serves as a wing and goalie for Cardinal Fury and says the experience has allowed him to meet other powerchair users and make new friends.
Laura Medcalf, a goalie and wing for the Cardinals, said she first got involved with power soccer after hearing about it from a friend. “One of my summer camps also sponsored an exhibition of the sport.” Laura said she “thought it looked so fun.” Laura said power soccer is a rewarding sport. She added that one of her most rewarding and memorable experiences “was winning Nationals in 2007 when I played with Circle City Rollers.” When asked what she thought the best part of power soccer was, she replied, “meeting new, incredible people, both athletes and spectators.” She said, “I have met so many people through this sport through traveling and all; it has just been the most amazing opportunity!”
Looking to the future, the team knows they will have to find additional funding sources to help meet their needs and goals. Cardinal Fury Team Manager Adam Lickliter and Cardinal Team Manger Karen Russo said the team is looking into sponsorships. One possibility is Power Soccer of Indy becoming a United Way agency. Adam’s mother works for Eli Lilly in Indianapolis, and “they all want to give to the team,” Karen said, “so that would be fantastic.” She said she submitted an application for Power Soccer of Indy to become a United Way agency and is waiting to hear back about the status. If the application were approved, all of the teams affiliated with Power Soccer of Indy—including the Ball State teams—would benefit from the donations. In addition, Adam has secured jerseys though a local vendor for Cardinal Fury. “He is working hard to help the team,” Karen said.
When they aren’t looking for sponsorships, the teams are preparing for competition. “Both teams are attending regionals,” Karen said. “The division two team [Cardinal Fury] will be going to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the Cardinals will be going to Fort Wayne.” The top three teams from each region will compete in the national championship. In addition to the regional and national championships, the team will participate in an event in late March. The future looks promising for power soccer. Indianapolis—headquarters of USPSA—is a possible location for the 2011 Powerchair Football World Cup, and the international federation is pushing to include power soccer in the 2016 Paralympics at Rio de Janeiro.
If you are interested in financially supporting the power soccer team, you can donate to the Richard Harris Disabled Student Development Fund. More information about donating can be found on the back of the newsletter. For more information about the Ball State power soccer team visit www.bsupowersoccer.com, and for more information about Team USA visit www.powersoccerteamusa.org.
It has been a productive fall semester for Disabled Students in Action (DSIA). President Shaetonna Jackson and Vice-President Jenny Vetor started organizing before the semester began and advertised the group at the Activity Fair on August 22nd, the Saturday before classes started. Since then, they have planned an event for each month, highlighting a different disability each time.
The group watched a documentary about a family struggling with the decision of using cochlear implants and discussed the film. DSIA also had a meeting at the Career Center for a presentation on preparing themselves for the job market. Most recently, DSIA viewed the film “I Am Sam” and discussed cognitive disabilities. The biggest task for DSIA this semester was designing and purchasing t-shirts for the group. Many people participated in the design process, coming up with an idea that followed the theme of “Disable the Label” from 2009’s Disability Awareness Month. These t-shirts are available in the DSD office for $8/each.
Each year the Ball State Alumni Association recognizes the accomplishments of alumni who have demonstrated promise and potential in their endeavors. According to the Alumni Association Web site, “The Graduate of the Last Decade (G.O.L.D.) Award annually recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of recent graduates of Ball State University.”
This year, Carlos Taylor, a member of the disability services team and adaptive computer technology specialist at Ball State, was among those honored with the G.O.L.D. Award. “It was a special event,” Carlos said. “I was able to have friends and relatives join me. I was in awe. It was an honor to be nominated. I couldn’t believe I was selected.”
Carlos was originally nominated back in 2008. “I just got a letter one day that said I was nominated,” Carlos said. Nominations are valid for 3 years, and because he was not selected last year, he was reconsidered this year. Carlos said they offered him a chance to submit new material for consideration, but he declined. “I didn’t want to ask anyone to write another recommendation.”
Carlos Taylor graduated from Ball State in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in business information technology and earned a master’s degree in information and communication sciences in 2005. He has been working for Ball State Computing Services as an adaptive computer technology specialist since November 2003.
Carlos said he enjoys his job and the people he is able to interact with. “Sometimes people ask what a typical day is like. Each day is different.” Each person he works with needs something different, he said, and while he tries to do his job the best he can, he doesn’t look for recognition.
In addition to working, Carlos said he enjoys being involved with the campus and the community. Carlos works with multiple departments to educate faculty, staff, and students about the adaptive technology available on campus. He is also the president of the Indiana Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD). AHEAD is a professional organization composed of members who are dedicated to developing policy for and providing services to people with disabilities involved in higher education.
Carlos has been honored with multiple awards in the past decade. In 2008, he received the Access Award, given to faculty and staff in recognition of their efforts to ensure access and opportunity for students with disabilities. In 2002, he received the Max Adamson Award, given to an outstanding senior recognizing academic achievement, campus involvement, and promotion of access for students with disabilities.
For more information about the G.O.L.D. Award and its recipients, visit www.bsu.edu/alumni.
Members of the disability community and Ball State University have partnered to address the employment barriers for people with disabilities. “Ball State has been a major forerunner in the area of disabilities,” said Bowen Center Distinguished Fellow Greg Fehribach. In April 2009, the Division of Disability and Rehabilitative Services and Ball State University's Bowen Center for Public Affairs entered into a 3-year partnership. Greg, a leading consultant on assessable design, directs the project. He is an alumnus of Ball State and an attorney with a disability who uses an electric wheelchair as a mobility aid device.
“As we were talking amongst leaders [most of who are at least 40 years old] in the disability community, here in Indianapolis,” Greg said, “we realized there weren’t very many people—young people—who were able to be part of the political process.” He said the leaders realized there was a void, and there weren’t people to turn to once the older members retire.
“Every year people retire,” Greg said. That is when they began to ask themselves, “Who is then going to fill in?” Their conclusion: “we needed to build a bench.” They needed to form a foundation for future generations. “We needed to figure out a way to create that group of people who will carry on after some of us old guys aren’t doing it anymore.” One of the key components of this partnership is to eliminate or reduce the barriers to employment. An article in the Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability (2006) reported that about 40% of college graduates with a disability—seeking and not seeking employment—are unemployed, as compared to less than 5% of those without a disability.
The partnership between the DDRS and the Bowen Center identified multiple project objectives to assist students with disabilities:
As part of the project, Greg will teach a course each semester on disability public policies and other activities aimed at identifying and addressing employment obstacles. “As part of the class, the curriculum, and the center, we are going to be trying to encourage and help people get internships. Encourage out of the classroom participation in processes—in business processes, in entrepreneurial processes, in political processes—so that relationships can be built and skills can be developed throughout the building of those relationships.” Greg said the hope is that those skills turn into job opportunities. The goal of the partnership is to have identified and begin breaking down the barriers so that a “group of students who have often not been included in that process” will benefit.
Meet Brandon Scott—an ambitious, athletic, and highly competitive 22-year-old. Brandon is a junior telecommunications major pursuing the news option and a graduate of Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis. He is in his first semester at Ball State University and says although he likes it, he is still adjusting to the campus.
Brandon transferred to Ball State from Purdue University after realizing he wanted to pursue a career in broadcasting. While at Purdue, he was an intern at WFYI in Indianapolis for Indiana Reading and Information Services (IRIS). IRIS provides access to newspapers, magazines, novels, and newspaper ads to the elderly or visually impaired through alternative media (i.e., phone, Internet, radio).
During the internship, Brandon said he realized even though he enjoyed working with the people, he did not enjoy the work or being in an office setting all day. “I realized that [public relations] was just not meant for me and with the current unemployment rates I decided that I needed to go into something that made me happy,” he said. He added that among the things that made him happy were telecommunications and broadcasting. So, with only a year left before graduation, Brandon decided to transfer to Ball State. “I chose to come to Ball State because of the reputation it has in telecommunications nationally. I knew that Ball State was where I need to be in order to set myself up for success.”
In addition to his studies, Brandon is involved with Ball State’s power soccer team and Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). He has quadramelia (an absence in the development of all four limbs) and uses a power chair for mobility assistance, as well as a canine companion, Elaine, who has been with him for 10 years.
CCI provides highly-trained assistance dogs for children and adults with disabilities, free of charge. Brandon assists the organization with fundraising, public relations, and presentations. “As a recipient of a dog from Canine Companions for Independence, I have done several fundraisers for them,” he said. “I have given demonstrations with Elaine at corporate meetings of donors, and I have spoken at several summer day camps/boy scout meeting about service dog awareness.”
As a high school student, Brandon was involved in multiple activities. He was a sports anchor for his high school’s morning news, a sports writer, and a member of the yearbook staff. He was also a member of the wrestling team, but an ankle injury his sophomore year took him off the mat. To fill his competitive drive, Brandon switched to swimming.
Prior to coming to Ball State, Brandon was training with hopes of competing in the 50-meter backstroke in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Unfortunately, transferring to Ball State has presented a challenge. “Training has hit a stalemate right now,” he said. “The people who helped me train are still at Purdue, and I am trying to find new people to assist in that.” Despite the challenges of replacing his trainers, Brandon is still looking forward: “My goal is the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.”
For more information on the organizations listed in this article visit them on the Web:
Following a nationwide search, Courtney Jarrett joined Ball State University’s Disabled Student Development (DSD) staff. The university's search for a new associate director to succeed Megan Estelle culminated in July with Courtney’s appointment.
Prior to accepting the position with DSD, Courtney held multiple positions at the Ball State Learning Center, between 2000-2008. In 2008, she began instructing courses at Ball State in Women's and Gender Studies.
Courtney said her experiences at the Learning Center made her feel comfortable working with college students—specifically student with disabilities. “I can advise students of the importance of good study skills as well as test preparation. I am also highly organized as a result of managing hundreds of tests every semester.” She added that dealing with numerous difficult testing situations helped her develop stronger problem solving skills.
“I am thrilled that Courtney is on board with us at DSD,” said Larry Markle, director of Disabled Student Development. “Her experience working with students with disabilities at the Learning Center made her uniquely qualified for this position.”
Courtney is a doctoral candidate in Adult, Higher, and Community Education at Ball State, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree. “I'm currently working on my dissertation proposal,” she said, “and hope to have it defended by the end of the semester, so I can finish the dissertation next year.” Her research interests include first-year experience, gender issues, higher education, history, and women’s studies.
Among her responsibilities, Courtney coordinates the support functions for students with disabilities (i.e., notetakers, sign language interpreters, readers/scanners, computer assisted real-time notes, personal care attendants). She also advises Disabled Students in Action (DSIA), a student group dedicated to disability education and awareness, works on disability awareness activities and programming, and meets with current and prospective students seeking information on services and accommodations.
This spring there are a range of activities and events dedicated to promoting disability awareness. Marcus Roberts, a jazz musician who lost his sight at age 5, will perform March 18 at Pruis Hall. In addition, there will be several speakers, films, and an interactive event. “DSIA is working with Triota [the Women’s Studies honor society on campus] to co-sponsor a film about women with disabilities,” she said.
Aggie Niemiec served as the assistant director for two years and as the associate director for one year before accepting a position as the director of the Center for Disability Resources at Illinois Institute of Technology in 2008. Megan Estelle succeeded Aggie and acted as the interim associate director for one year and is now a resident director at Anderson University.
Ball State University and the Disabled Student Development (DSD) office lost a good friend and accomplished graduate, Jodi (Taylor) James (BS, 1994; MA, 1995), on September 5th due to an auto accident.
Jodi’s competent work, insight, and wonderful sense of humor were a fixture in the DSD office while she was an undergraduate employee and, later, a graduate assistant in the student affairs administration in higher education masters program. Her winning smile greeted, welcomed, and oriented many students with disabilities when they began their work at Ball State.
After graduation, Jodi entered the field of postsecondary disability services at Indiana University Southeast. At the time of her death, she was a disability services coordinator at Purdue North Central. She was a top-flight professional who worked diligently to provide access and opportunity for students with disabilities.
She married Bob James in 1998 at the same church in Michigan City at which her memorial service was held. Her mother Barbara talked beautifully about what a spirited fighter and great individual Jodi had been from the time of her birth. Many others gathered for the service and spoke of her wonderful attributes and how much she is missed.
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