Strong as Steel Adaptive Sports

My son Trent, who has survived many hemorrhagic strokes in his young life, has right hemiplegic cerebral palsy and epilepsy.  He has always been a natural runner, running has seemed to come more easily to him than walking!  When he tried other sports, soccer, baseball etc. he excelled at the running parts but wasn’t a huge fan of the other stuff.  In the Spring of 2011, my husband and I decided to start looking into a running program for him.  There was no adaptive track and field program in our area but he wanted to run and we had some great support from other families who had gone before through CHASA.  We got some great information, about how to qualify and register for the National Junior Disability Championships from them.  He qualified for NJDC and attending NJDC was a wonderful experience for him and our entire family!  He came home feeling fantastic about himself and also asking excellent questions like “why don’t we have a team in Pittsburgh” and “I bet there are other kids in Pittsburgh who would love to come to NJDC next year”.  So we started talking about starting a team in Pittsburgh, and sharing the inspiration we felt at NJDC with other local families!

That’s how Strong as Steel Adaptive Sports was born, and since then we have worked to create a team in the Western PA area for kids aged 5-21 with physical disabilities.  We focus on track and field but also provide opportunities for competition in other sports including archery, table tennis, weight lifting, and swimming.  Our goal is to encourage children to gain independence despite any challenges they may face. While children gain physical strength and athletic skills they will also be gaining self-esteem and learning perseverance.

Strong as Steel athletes will participate in meets sanctioned by Wheelchair and Ambulatory Sports USA.  Athletes are classified at meets based on the type of disability they have and the disability severity, using a classification system very similar to the one used by the Paralympics.  For instance, there are 8 classifications for cerebral palsy to allow for the variability that exists within the diagnosis (quadriplegia, hemiplegia, diplegia, ambulatory and wheelchair athletes). The classification system allows kids to compete on a more even playing field.  My son is classified as a T37 for Track events and a F37 for field events.  To learn more about Wheelchair and Ambulatory Sports USA, and the classification process, you can check out their website.

Our Mission is to provide sport specific training and opportunities for children ages 5 to 21 with physical disabilities (ambulatory, wheelchair or visually impaired athletes) to attend local, regional and national competitions. Our program aims to help develop physical strength and athletic skills while teaching perseverance and encouraging self-esteem.

We encourage interested families to check out our website and please feel free to contact Strong as Steel Adaptive Sports with questions.

If you know any athletes who would be appropriate for our program, we would appreciate it if you would share our information with them!

Darla Clayton
President of the Board and Head Coach
Strong as Steel Adaptive Sports