Return to Sports Boosts Confidence of Young Athletes
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News Service
When Scott Therrell of Chunky was paralyzed in a car accident at age 19, friends had to wonder how the avid athlete and outdoorsman would adjust to life as a paraplegic.
They got their answer the day after he got home from Methodist Rehabilitation Center. “I got out of the hospital Nov. 17 and I killed a deer Nov. 18,” said Therrell, now 31. “I’ve pretty much been going wide open ever since.”
Therrell’s latest obsession is water skiing, and he credits Methodist with introducing him to the adaptive sport. The hospital’s therapeutic recreation program has sponsored a water ski clinic at a Brandon lake since 1989.
“Our goal is to show people with disabilities that a wide range of activities have been adapted to meet their needs,” said program director Ginny Boydston.
Program participants have sampled hand cycling, wheelchair racing, snow skiing, wheelchair rugby, SCUBA diving and even ballet. But for Therrell, nothing beat the thrill of skimming across a lake behind a speeding boat. “I love being on the water,” he said.
Therrell won a gold medal in the disabled division of water skiing at the 2004 State Games of Mississippi.
And he says being involved in the sport has been a great confidence booster. “When people say: ‘Dang, you can water ski?’ That makes you feel like you are not so disabled.”
Boydston said that dynamic is one of the greatest benefits of adaptive sports. “I am a big believer that sports do lead the way to independence,” she said. “If you can get back to doing something you did before, you feel like you can do anything.”
Scott Therrell of Chunky hits the lake to improve his water skiing skills.