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San Diego State's Adaptive Sports Program providing opportunities for disabled athletes

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Posted at 6:19 PM, Sep 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-21 21:19:36-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego State's Adaptive Sports Program is giving disabled athletes a chance to compete at the college level. The program includes sports like tennis, track and field and rugby.

Manny Gomez was a high school baseball player who dreamed of playing ball at the college level, until an accident left him in a wheelchair. Now, he is a part of the tennis team.

"After my accident... I thought I was done playing sports. I was like, 'Now I'm in a chair,'" said Gomez.

Andrew Lee, who is also a member of the SDSU adaptive tennis team, was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, also known as Brittle Bone Disease.

"I've broken my legs over 30 times, and I've lost count as to how many surgeries I've had," Lee said.

However, for Gomez and Lee, not only are they getting the chance to play tennis, but they are also getting the college athletic experience.

"Those athletes are coming to the program here at SDSU, and we are really designing this program to treat them like a real division one athlete. We want to give them that experience all the resources that a division one athlete would have," said Adaptive Program Director AJ Munoz.

SDSU is one of about 30 colleges that have an adaptive sports program. The Aztecs' program has around 20 athletes.

Both Gomez and Lee described being a part of the team as a positive experience.

"When I got into this program, I felt that bond of teamwork and just growing as a person. It is also helping me with my everyday skills," said Gomez.

"What it has meant to me is I get to play college sports. Growing up and being disabled, I never knew I could play college sports," said Lee.

SDSU adaptive tennis coach Greg Hasterok said the program is providing possibilities for these athletes

"You are just like any other college student. You can get a scholarship and an education, and you can go through the grass roots all the way to professional level," he told the team.

Munoz said the program is looking for more athletes, so it can keep growing.

"We have scholarships available for any athlete wanting to come here, and specifically in our flagship sports adaptive track and field and wheel chair tennis," said Munoz. "We ask a lot of our athletes, but we also provide a lot in return."