American Association of Adapted Sports Programs History

aaasp-20-yr-banner
The American Association of Adapted Sports (AAASP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing students with disabilities access to competitive interscholastic sports. AAASP has been proud to serve over 2450 schools and train over 800 coaches and officials over the past 20 years. AAASP Athletes engage in approximately 9.2 hours a week, during our 30 weeks of programming. Over the course of 20 years, AAASP has served 5851 athletes which results in over 1,614,870 program hours during our 20 years of sports programming!

AAASP Milestones

1980–1990

  • Educators within Georgia’s DeKalb County School System originate a volunteer–operated after–school adapted sports program for students with physical disabilities.

1990–1995

  • Bev Vaughn becomes the first full–time adapted sports program coordinator for the DeKalb County, Georgia school system. She changes the program’s focus from primarily recreational and non–competitive sports participation to emphasize opportunities for physical development in compliance with standards established by national adult disabled sport governing bodies, and interscholastic athletics for persons without disabilities.
  • Vaughn designs the original model in adapted school-based cross–disability sport participation and creates curriculum for training and certifying adapted sports coaches. Additionally, she evaluates and modifies adult disability sport rules in order to accommodate student athletes, and introduces policies to put emphasis on academic standards. Vaughn begins to recruit a team of experts in disability sport and education to explore program replication statewide and nationally.

1996

  • Tommie Storms, a businesswoman and post–secondary education program director, is solicited to develop a business plan to expand the adapted sports model. The plan includes forming a non–profit association to provide the leadership and governance for a school–based league system that would be replicable statewide and nationally.
  • AAASP is founded as a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. AAASP fields five program sites (teams) in Georgia. The original AAASP adapted sports are wheelchair basketball, indoor wheelchair soccer, and track and field.

1997

  • AAASP fields six more teams across Georgia, bringing the total number of program sites to 11.
  • Professors from Emory University and the University of Georgia conduct a comprehensive study of adapted sports program participants and document improvements in physical, emotional, and social well being.
  • AAASP takes over management and fiscal responsibilities of the Southeast Regional Victory Games track and field meet (formerly the DeKalb–Gwinnett Victory Games). This competition becomes the main event of AAASP’s track and field season in Georgia.

1998

  • Eighty percent of AAASP programs in Georgia become 100% funded two years ahead of schedule.

1999

  • The Georgia state legislature appropriates funds for the development of AAASP programs throughout the state.

2000

  • AAASP cofounders Bev Vaughn and Tommie Storms begin development of the strategic plan for national expansion to be called Project ASPIRE. The focus is to develop key national partnerships to provide the resources for local school systems and community organizations to build and support their own adapted sports leagues.
  • AAASP adds a beep baseball league to its adapted sports season.
  • AAASP develops new equipment for power wheelchair hockey, including hockey sticks that are adaptable to different levels of skill and ability.

2001

  • Evander Holyfield becomes the official spokesperson for AAASP, and the Holyfield Foundation provides funding to start AAASP’s all–star wheelchair basketball team named Team Holyfield.
  • AAASP and the American Association for Active Lifestyles and Fitness (AAALF) form an alliance on behalf of Project ASPIRE. AAALF is the largest United States member organization for adapted physical educators.
  • AAASP produces the first in a series of educational workshops for Project ASPIRE. AAASP, AAALF, and FlagHouse, a global distributor of sports equipment and products, co–sponsor these workshops.
  • Jean Driscoll, world–renowned wheelchair athlete, becomes the official spokesperson for Project ASPIRE.
  • The Georgia High School Association (GHSA) and AAASP form an alliance that results in Georgia’s recognition of AAASP as the official sanctioning and governing body for the state’s interscholastic adapted athletics.
  • With seed funding from the community foundation of Atlanta’s professional hockey team—the Atlanta Thrashers—AAASP adds a power wheelchair hockey league to its adapted sports lineup.

2002

  • Evander Holyfield and Jean Driscoll accompany AAASP and its Georgia all–star team to Houston to conduct a youth indoor wheelchair soccer exhibition at the Adult Indoor Wheelchair Soccer Nationals.
  • Sports equipment provider FlagHouse joins the Project ASPIRE partnership.
  • Pat Summerall Productions produces the official Project ASPIRE campaign video. Legendary sports commentator Pat Summerall narrates the production.
  • AAASP and FlagHouse solidify an agreement for the development and widespread distribution of adapted sports kit systems and publications for adapted sports coaches and physical educators.
  • AAASP spearheads the development of a wireless–controlled sounding devise for beep baseball bases. FlagHouse oversees the production of these new bases.
  • AAASP develops a national membership program for educators and professionals with interests in promoting youth adapted athletics.
  • AAASP begins production of a series of sport rulebooks for wide–scale distribution.
  • The Georgia High School Association’s Executive Committee votes to include wheelchair track events to its track and field season beginning spring 2003.

2003

  • The Project ASPIRE campaign makes its public launch.
  • FlagHouse debuts indoor wheelchair soccer and beep baseball equipment kits and competition rules in its spring Physical Education and Recreation catalog. These kits and rules are the first in the adapted sports series of equipment and publications to be made available.
  • AAASP announces its national membership program.
  • Project ASPIRE identify leadership who will oversee task forces in several states.
  • The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD) becomes a Project ASPIRE partner. NCPAD promotes physical activity by providing information and resources in collaboration with the University of Illinois at Chicago in conjunction with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
  • Jean Driscoll leads the first AAASP training workshop for Georgia’s high school track and field coaches in preparation for the 2003 track season.
  • AAASP develops supplemental guides for coaches and physical educators about topics such as sport skills and drills, competition strategies, wheelchair maintenance, and sport first aid.
  • AAASP produces and hosts the first–ever national tournament for youth indoor wheelchair soccer, the 2003 Coast to Coast Indoor Wheelchair Soccer Jr. Nationals. AAASP teams from Georgia and teams from California compete in the three–day round robin tournament.

2004

  • For the first time in the United States, traditional high school championships include a wheelchair championship event when the AAASP Georgia Wheelchair Basketball Championship is held in conjunction with the GHSA State Basketball Championships.
  • More than 300,000 viewers watch the Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) broadcast of the three–day tournament.
  • The Nielsen polls rate the wheelchair basketball championship as the fifth most–watched game of the series.

2005

  • AAASP’s Track and Field is fully incorporated into the GHSA track season. AAASP continues to govern the GHSA wheelchair competitions and train GHSA track coaches on wheelchair track and field topics.
  • AAASP debuts wheelchair football with seed funding from the youth foundation of the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta’s professional football team.

2006

  • AAASP celebrates 10 years of interscholastic athletics serving students throughout Georgia. AAASP has sanctioned more than 1096 adaptedSPORTS® competitions since its inception, 116 of which at the national level. Additionally, more than 200 coaches have completed AAASP’s adaptedSPORTS® coaching certification program.
  • The Adapted Physical Activity Council and Flaghouse select AAASP as APAC’s, 2006, Program Recognition Award winner. The award was presented during the National AAHPERD Conference.

2007

  • The Georgia Department of Education and AAASP enter into an agreement that provides Georgia school systems access to services and resources to start adaptedSPORTS® programs. The GaDOE encourages all school systems to ensure that interested eligible students are fully engaged in interscholastic adapted athletics and that the systems comply with federal mandates that relate to this educational initiative.
  • AAASP develops a three-year expansion plan for the state of Georgia. As a part of that strategy, AAASP hosts the Georgia A.S.P.I.R.E. luncheon to introduce Inception grant opportunities for the expansion of interscholastic adapted athletics with physical disabilities in compliance with IDEA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
  • Henry County Schools and its partners, the YMCA and Parks & Recreation Department apply for and are awarded the first AAASP Inception Grant in the amount of $15,000 for program start up.

2008

  • AAASP is presented with the 2008 Martin Luther King Jr. Corporate Humanitarian Award from Georgia Perimeter College in Atlanta.
  • AAASP continues to implement its expansion plan and awards inception grants in the amount of $15,000 to Houston County Schools, and Gwinnett County Schools and $20,000 to Oconee/Clarke County Schools.

2009

  • Inception grant winners continue to offer adapted sports and begin to add sports.
  • The Florida High School Athletic Association joined AAASP membership and added wheelchair tack and field events to its State Championship Series for students with physical disabilities.

2010

  • The Georgia High School Association created a line item in their budget to help fund adapted sports with AAASP. This action establishes a national trend by a state high school association in working with AAASP to commit resources toward ensuring equal access and opportunities in school-based athletics for students with physical disabilities.
  • Identifying an important need to expand physical activity and athletic opportunities for individuals with disabilities in our educational institutions, the Alliance in Support of Athletics Equity for Students with Disabilities works to advance sports opportunities for students with disabilities. The Alliance, led by the Center for Sport in Society at Northeastern University (SIS), in partnership with American Association of Adapted Sports Programs (AAASP), the Inclusive Fitness Coalition (IFC), and Special Olympics (SO), is comprised of over 100 organizations representing a cross sector of the disability rights, sport, health and fitness, and civil rights community. Recognizing the limited information that existed about the state of physical activity opportunities for individuals with disabilities in the school setting, the Alliance worked in partnership with members of Congress, including Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), to request a GAO study to examine this issue in greater detail.
  • The results confirm the need for continued action and advocacy on behalf of students with disabilities. Specifically, the report noted that students with disabilities participate in athletics at consistently lower rates than students without disabilities.

2011

  • The Kentucky High School Athletic Association joined AAASP membership to provide opportunities for students with physical disabilities in wheelchair track and field events.
  • AAASP forms a partnership with VoiceAmerica that will be instrumental in raising awareness nationally and internationally about the abilities, talents, desires and challenges of students with physical disabilities to have locally available sports opportunities. AAASP will be featured monthly in a worldwide Internet broadcast at VoiceAmerica’s SportsTalk at the Positive Pub with host Gil Tyree.
  • AAASP participates in the Physical Activity and Sport for People with Disabilities Symposium and Strategic Planning Meeting.  The symposium and strategic planning meeting brought together key stakeholders to create a community blueprint for action.

2012

  • AAASP and the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) celebrate 10 years of a dual governing alliance, whereby AAASP serves as GHSA’s partnering association in providing statewide sanctioned adapted sports to Georgia’s schools serving students with qualifying disabilities in adapted team sports throughout the school year.

2013

  • A historic and significant milestone for our nations’ school children with disabilities has been reached with guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR).  The guidelines clarify schools’ responsibilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to provide athletic opportunities for students with disabilities.  AAASP commends the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights for this guidance, as it will have far reaching positive effects on the lives of children with disabilities and our communities.
  • “The American Association of Adapted Sports Programs has been leading the way in the development of inclusive programs for students with disabilities in the secondary school level for years and will be leading a national effort to devise expanded programs in response to the new OCR guidance.”  Q and A: Disability in Sport Dear Colleague Letter, Active Policy Solutions.
  • AAASP is selected as a member of the National Federation of State High School Associations’ task force along with representatives from several state associations, the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, Special Olympics Indiana, and USA Paralympics, to discuss ways to grow the participation opportunities for students with disabilities.
  • AAASP presented at the National Federation of State High School Associations’ summer conference in Denver as part of a panel discussion on accommodations and inclusion for students with disabilities.
  • AAASP participates in, and presents at, the NCAA Student-Athletes with Disabilities Think Tank.
  • AAASP co-presents with Special Olympics at the annual National Athletic Directors Conference in Anaheim, CA.

2014

  • AAASP joins the Athletics For All task force, a group comprised of disability sport national governing bodies and community based sports organizations to collaborate on developing resources in adaptive sports.
  • AAASP announces a partnership initiative with, I Can Do It, You Can Do It! (ICDI) of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition (PCFSN), to encourage students with disabilities to engage in regular physical activity and good nutrition, and earn recognition through the President’s Challenge Program.

2015

  • AAASP announces the creation of its newly formed Advisory Advocacy Council.  The Council will provide strategic advice and support in advancing AAASP as an advocate and leading provider of school sports for students with disabilities.  The Council’s three main areas of focus will involve the following areas:  1) the grassroots sector which will include parents, communities, and athletes; 2) school leadership systems including the NFHS, NIAAA, Special Education and related affiliates; 3) government including local, state and federal.
  • AAASP presents during the Inclusion Discussion Forum at the National Federation of State High School Associations’ annual summer conference in New Orleans.

2016

  • AAASP celebrates 20 Year Anniversary.