Some people may view adaptive lacrosse as limiting. Others, like Yvette Pegues, only see the possibilities.
Pegues, the reigning Ms. Wheelchair International, attended the US Lacrosse Adaptive Lacrosse Seminar Oct. 14-15 in Sparks, Md. Having never seen the game before, she admittedly was a bit overwhelmed during an opening demonstration by players from Wheelchair Lacrosse USA.
Trepidation soon turned to motivation, however, and Pegues left the two-day event energized and excited about spreading lacrosse to new audiences.
"I have so much to learn and so much to teach," said Pegues, founder and director of Your Invisible Disability. "It's about creating more opportunities."
Adaptive lacrosse is an offering of the sport provided for people with physical or intellectual impairments. The US Lacrosse seminar gave new and emerging adaptive lacrosse coaches and leaders enhanced skills to provide services to their local communities.
Part of the challenge, Pegues said, is helping those with disabilities to understand that there are new opportunities available to them. One of her objectives as a peer counselor at the Shepherd's Center in Atlanta, one of the nation's top rehabilitation hospitals for people with spinal cord injury and brain injury, is assisting newly disabled persons to keep moving forward.
"We want them to embrace the idea that being different is not a bad thing," Pegues said.
Born and raised in Florida, Pegues was an active athlete for much of her life. In addition to traditional sports – basketball, volleyball, track and field – she also participated in activities like cycling and horseback riding.
Much of that changed after a traumatic brain injury five years ago caused her to lose the use of her legs. Motivated in part by setting a good example for her two young sons, Pegues has discovered new personal outlets for fitness and fun. Golf, and now lacrosse, are among her latest pursuits.
"When you are disabled, or become disabled, nobody tells you all the things that you can do," Pegues said. "Persons with disabilities have access to so many traditional sports these days. We have to help them realize that it's not over. They just need to be presented with the opportunities."
Studies have shown that athletes with disabilities benefit from the same strength training and conditioning protocols as athletes without disabilities, and, generally, the same program used for athletes without disabilities can be used for peers with a disability, with a few considerations and modifications.