The competitive spirit is searing hot with the Gwinnett Heat, the coed, adapted sports program for students with physical disabilities. The Heat just completed a sizzling season in basketball, winning second place in the state in the team’s first year.
In March, the Gwinnett Heat transitioned into the football season, with handball to follow in the fall. While Heat players use specially designed, manual sport wheelchairs for basketball, adapted rules for football and handball allow players to use motorized wheelchairs. The team’s home games and practices take place at the Monarch School’s gymnasium.
North Gwinnett High student
Brice Croxton sizes up the rim.
This program is important because it gives students an opportunity to be on a team where they can learn valuable lessons they can apply in life,” says Mike Phillips, GCPS’ coordinator of Adapted Sports. “Teamwork, discipline, hard work, and overcoming adversity are all lessons that help us become better people. These student-athletes are working hard not to let their physical disability be an excuse for them not learning to play a sport."
“Brice loves the opportunity to play competitive sports,” says Susan Croxton of her son, a North Gwinnett High< 9th grader who played basketball during the winter season. “It’s been awesome for him and he’s really enjoyed it. We appreciate the School Board for starting the program because the kids on the team wouldn’t have had any other avenue to participate in sports.”“The whole thing is about providing opportunities to kids, so the more kids we can get to be a part of the program, the better,” says >Mike Emery, director of Athletics, Student Activities, and Community Schools.
The district hopes to expand to both a junior varsity and a varsity program as more students join the Heat. The program is open to students attending any middle or high school in the county. Interested in playing for the Heat? Call Mr. Phillips at 678-301-6885.