Ball State represented by student, professor at Paralympics

Topic: College of Applied Sciences and Technology

August 29, 2012

Ball State University will be represented on the athletic courts and coaching sidelines during this week's 14th Paralympic Games in London.

Emmy Kaiser, 22, a master's degree student in sports exercise psychology, will play in the singles and doubles wheelchair tennis tournaments.

And Lawrence Judge, an associate professor of physical education, will serve as an assistant track and field coach. He will work with athletes in the Paralympics' throwing events, which include the discus, javelin and shot put.

The Paralympics are an international, multisport competition for athletes with physical disabilities, modeled after the Olympics. This year, the Paralympics will run from Aug. 29 to Sept. 9.

Kaiser, a Fort Mitchell, Ky., resident who will begin her Ball State studies after the games conclude, has spina bifida, a congenital disorder of the spine that affects the nerves in her legs.

She said her trip to England is the fulfillment of a dream.

"I am extremely excited about playing in London," said Kaiser, who has a bachelor's degree in psychology from Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Ky. "It has been a goal of mine for the last six to eight years to not just go to the Paralympics, but to go knowing I can compete with the other women there."

Kaiser said she has been playing international wheelchair tennis for eight years, moving up to the women's division from juniors four years ago. Wheelchair tennis is played like the standard game, with one difference: The ball can bounce twice instead of once before it's returned.

Although she plays down her individual medal chances, Kaiser believes that she and her partner — Mackenzie Soldan, 20, of Louisville, Ky. — will be competitive in doubles.

"On paper, we are not expected to medal, but that means there is less pressure for us," Kaiser said. "In singles, it will be very difficult to get that far. But in doubles, if Mackenzie and I work at it, you never know."

From the sidelines

Judge, meanwhile, is working with competitors who also travel to London with high hopes. He will be working with track and field athletes in the games' ambulatory division.

"These are athletes who are going to be throwing from an upright position but may have a prosthesis or some other kind of physical disability," said Judge, who also coordinates Ball State's online master's program in athletic coaching education.

He has been working for some time as the personal coach for two U.S. athletes who expect to be in the hunt for medals: Jeremy Campbell, 25, a resident athlete at Central Oklahoma University in Edmond, and Scott Danberg, 50, of Cooper City, Fla.

Campbell, who was born without a right fibula (or calf bone), is the current world record holder for the F44 discus toss at 63.45 meters and won two gold medals at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing. F44 is the competition classification for athletes with a single amputation below the knee.

Danberg, who competes in the F40 class for short stature athletes, won the bronze medal in the discus throw at the 2011 International Paralympic Committee World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand. He will be competing in his fifth Paralympics.

"We're hoping," said Judge, "that those two will lead the charge for the U.S. team in the throwing events."

Judge has 18 years of experience coaching NCAA Division I track and field and cross-country athletes, including a long tenure at the University of Florida. He has trained eight Olympians, 10 NCAA champions and more than 100 All-Americans.

Coaching Paralympic and Olympic athletes is similar in most respects, Judge said, although there are some differences.
 
"It's all about function and what sorts of positions athletes are able to get into," he said. "Coaching Paralympic athletes requires additional knowledge and application of biomechanics. It has challenged me and caused me to think outside the box."

Teaching from London

Judge's online Ball State students will benefit from his Paralympics coaching, too. He'll conduct his coaching education classes as usual from London, incorporating his daily experiences into the course work.

Among those experiences: participating in the games' opening ceremonies, living in the athletes' village, and — Judge hopes — attending some medal ceremonies.

"I plan on doing a little bit of blogging and sharing pictures and anecdotes with our students to bring this experience home as much as I can," he said. "This is such a great opportunity — I'm just excited to have a chance to represent the United States of America and Ball State University. I'm looking forward to it."

By Vic Caleca, senior media relations manager 

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