February 18, 2018  

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Technology Learning Center, Challenged Athletes Foundation Give Athlete More Competitive Edge

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With the help of his special wheelchair, Chadric Seaman plays competitive basketball. (University Communications photo by Charmaine Williams Schmermund)

Through his relationship with The University of Southern Mississippi’s Technology Learning Center (TLC) and a grant provided by the Challenged Athletes Foundation, Chadric Seaman has developed into the fully competitive athlete he never thought was possible.

Since becoming a client with the TLC in 2012, Seaman has participated as an athlete in basketball, softball and tennis. Born with cerebral palsy, Seaman was never able to participate in sports. At 30 years old, he first learned about athletic programs available at the TLC, which is located on the university’s Gulf Park campus in Long Beach.

“Being able to participate in sports has made me feel like I do belong amongst everyone else,” said Seaman. “I was never aware that I could be a fully competitive athlete before encountering wheelchair sports. I think the biggest barrier I had to overcome was that I simply did not know there were wheelchair sports available in our area. Another barrier would be the entire lack of ever being able to participate in any sports until I was introduced to TLC.”

With the help of the Challenged Athletes Foundation, Seaman received a grant that awarded funding for a basketball wheelchair, which was custom fit to his specific needs and functionality. By purchasing a basketball wheelchair specially developed for him, Seaman says it has helped him to better pursue his goals, as well as allowing him to continue developing into an athletic competitor.

“Here at the Institute for Disability Studies' Technology Learning Center, we are honored to work with athletes like Chad,” said Ashley-Nicole Ross Flowers, coordinator of recreational services and assistive technology specialist at the TLC. “Chad has the dedication of what a Paralympics athlete should be. He is one of the Golden Eagle's fiercest players, and whether we are winning or losing, he gets the job done in any situation.”

Although he’s happy with the sports he is currently playing, one sport Seaman wants to pursue is wheelchair football. “I have a goal of continuing my efforts to become a better athlete with each and every practice and game that we conduct,” added Seaman. “I would like to eventually participate in many different wheelchair sports as they become available.”

The TLC is part of the Institute for Disability Studies, Mississippi’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Research, Education and Service. The center serves children and adults with disabilities through assistive technology, evaluation, consultation and recreation. In fall 2011, the TLC first developed the Southern Miss Golden Eagles wheelchair basketball team and has recently began a softball team for its athletes.

Since the team’s inception, Seaman has taken part in numerous events throughout the gulf coast to help spread awareness of wheelchair sports and all the amenities the TLC offers. Flowers added that Seaman has “displayed a great attitude within the community by demonstrating his love for wheelchair basketball and getting the word out about the wonderful opportunities available with the TLC and Southern Miss Golden Eagles.”

“I want to personally thank the Challenged Athletes Foundation for granting Chad a personal sports chair that fits his body,” said Flowers. “I have already seen an amazing difference with Chad's performance since he received his new chair. The TLC was honored to assist Chad with the application and process to receive this incredible grant.”

The Challenged Athletes Foundation, a world leader in helping individuals with physical disabilities get involved, and stay involved, in sports has distributed more than $1.4 million in funds to 980 individual grant recipients in 63 countries, as part of its Access for Athletes program. More information about the foundation can be found at www.challengedathletes.org.

For more information about the Southern Miss Technology Learning Center, call 228.214.3400 or email tlc@usm.edu.