Joseph Mendez was an undercover cop, driving home one night through Queens when he was in a car accident. Suddenly his life was completely changed. But it wasn’t over. After spending an entire year in recovery, Joe left the hospital in a wheelchair. Interactions with other patients he'd encountered motivated Joe to revisit the sports he loved so much before his injury and even try some new ones, chiefly through the Wheelchair Sports Federation .
The Wheelchair Sports Federation provides opportunities for disabled and wheelchair-enabled individuals to play sports both recreationally and competitively and operates under the motto "if a sport exists, then it can be adapted." Adaptive sports, or parasports, look much like able-bodied sports and feature modifications in the equipment and rules to meet the needs of the participants. Adaptive sports exist by the dozens and include swimming, mountain biking, fencing, and softball--a sport that Joe now coaches alongside John Hamre at Victory Field in Forest Park as part of The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation’s accessibility programming.
The team, named after the New York Mets or New York Yankees depending on the year, is made up of veterans, individuals born with a disability, and those who became disabled later in life. Some players are long-time athletes re-learning the game while others are joining a sports team for the very first time. Regardless, everyone bands together to train for the chance to compete in Nationals, held this year in Arlington, Texas, all the while offering a positive and supportive environment for players to remain active and thrive.
Music: Vintage Zip Car by Glass Boy