Sport Court helps USAV Sitting athletes spread 'Joy'

By Karen Patterson (karen.patterson@usav.org) | July 11, 2016, 6:53 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 11, 2016) – On Saturday, U.S. Women’s Sitting Volleyball’s Katie Holloway (Lake Stevens, Washington) and Lexi Shifflett (Waseca, Minnesota) took a short break from training for the Paralympics to teach sitting volleyball to a segment of the population much different from many of the clinics they participate in.

The pair, along with U.S. Sitting Volleyball Program Coordinator Elliot Blake instructed a record number 140 campers ages 10-17 and counselors with physical disabilities at Paddy Rossback Youth Camp, co-hosted by the Amputee Coalition and Camp Joy in Clarksville, Ohio.

“Growing up I didn’t have someone to look up to. Both Katie and I said we wish we’d had opportunities like this growing up because it would have made things so much easier,” Shifflett said. “It’s a very humbling experience to be at a camp like this.”

The annual camp is geared toward children with limb loss or limb difference, providing an environment in which campers can participate in adapted sports as one method of increasing independent and confidence in a supportive environment. Additionally, all costs are covered for each camper, opening the experience up to individuals who may not otherwise be able to participate.

Shifflett and Holloway both were born with fibular hemimelia, a congenital birth defect in which part or all of the fibular bone – and sometimes ankle bones – do not fully develop. The campers had a variety of amputations, including both arm and leg amputations.

“It was really great to see kids at this level because we’re so used to working with able-bodied individuals,” Holloway said. “We really just covered the basics, but you hope that some of them were interested and got excited about it.”

The trip to Ohio was made possible courtesy of a $2,000 donation by USA Volleyball sponsor Sport Court. Blake has attended the camp since 2014, while Shifflett participated last year along with U.S. Women’s Sitting Volleyball teammate Tia Edwards (Skiatook, Oklahoma). However, this year’s trip would not have been possible without the donation.

“I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to go and definitely want to thank Sport Court and Elliot for including me,” Holloway said. “I’m thinking about being a counselor next year.”