Jr. Team Possible: Rio Woolf (Part 1)- The Anticipation

Sunday, June 14

7:00 a.m. US/ 12 p.m. UK

Caitlin arrives in the kitchen unusually early dressed and ready for the day. She is wearing her new pink t-shirt that reads, “Girls can change the world.” IMG_0770

“Good morning,Cait…” I start to say when she interrupts me. She has more important things on her mind this morning.

“Mom,” she says as she looks down at her t-shirt. “I think they should make shirts that say, ‘Future Paralympians can change the world’.”

“I agree, Caitlin. We should make shirts that say…” she interrupts me again.

“Mom, they should make shirts that say, ‘Paralympians can change the world’, too.”

7:30 a.m. US/ 12:30 p.m. UK

Nolan bounds into the kitchen still in his pajamas. “I can’t believe it! Today, I get to interview a future Paralympian.”

Introduction to Jr. Team Possible

Dear Readers,

When I was researching the 2012 London Paralympic Games, I came across this photo of a young boy named Rio holding up aIMG_0738 mini Lego figure that he had built. The top of the figurine featured a brawny man with the typical rectangular torso, but it was his lower limbs that made me smile. Rio had created running blades for his Lego man. He had built one of his heroes, British Paralympic track and field star, Richard Whitehead. In the photo Rio’s eyes glistened with pride His little Lego “mini-me” figure and joyous smile reminded me that if you don’t see yourself in the world you can build it (especially with Legos).

I reflected on the photo and thought I should follow Rio’s lead and start building what I wanted to see in the world. Like Rio, I want to see a more inclusive world that celebrates ALL abilities. However, I am not as imaginative as Rio with Legos. Therefore, I knew I would have to build my vision with words. Jr. TeamPossible: Young Athletes Who Redefine Ability is my attempt to build a world where ALL young athletes are celebrated for how they redefine play, sport and ability and through their words we will shift perspectives and create change in our world.

Since I know adults can sometimes get in the way, my children (Nolan and Caitlin) will be conducting the interviews for the Jr. Team Possible. The interviews will be kids talking to kids about sports, life, and other important stuff. I encourage you to get involved by sharing the stories of our featured athletes. Let’s start building a more inclusive world together!

Believe in the Possible,

Jen

P.S. Check out a preview of things to come with theses super kids!

Nick Springer: Two-Time Wheelchair Rugby Paralympian

This post is the first in a series that will focus on athletes who redefine ability in sports. The first profile is on the athlete who has had the biggest impact on my life and who has greatly influenced what my children believe is possible.

Nicks Profile Pic

Name: Nick Springer  

Hometown: Croton-on-Hudson, NY; but currently lives in Phoenix, AZ.

What sport or sports do you play? I play wheelchair rugby. I also scuba dive. I will do just about anything and everything that I get the opportunity to do.

What superpowers do you possess? I have the ability to look at any situation and come out of it with a smile.

What accomplishments in sports are you most proud of? Definitely, winning the gold beijing flowersmedal in 2008 Paralympics. But, I am even more proud of helping the people who are newly injured and getting them back on their feet by building up their confidence. It is better than winning any championship.

What books inspire you? I mostly like fiction where the characters overcome great obstacles. I am drawn to historical fiction. In college, I read the memoirs of generals from WWII. I liked their mindset. Even though they didn’t want to be in their situation, they did what they had to do. I’m a big fan of Kurt Vonnegut. I got to know him when I was in the hospital. I like Slaughterhouse 5 and how he talks about death simply being an existence in another time and space.

What songs are on your workout playlist? It depends on the day and the workout, but I usually listen to punk rock and some heavy metal. It has to be fast paced.

What’s your mantra that keeps you going during tough workouts or bad days? Keep pushing!

How would you define ability? I would change how “ability” is defined and that it is not an ability that makes you strong, but your ability to push past your weaknesses that make you strong. Strength has nothing to do with what you can do when you are at your best, but what you can do when you are at your worst.

What is your sports story? Since a story usually has an ending and I know sports will always be a part of my life whether I am playing or not, I don’t think of it is a story. It is more of a journey.

What advice do you have for other athletes? It’s not about the impact on the game itself, but the impact you have on the lives of the people you play with and the people you inspire. Success is about the impact you have on others. 

Impact

If you know an athlete who you think should be profiled because s/he believes in the possible and redefines ability, please contact email me (jlstrattonpossiblebooks@gmail.com).