Nearly 30 participants at this year’s Auburn Wheelchair Basketball Summer Camp got special treatment on Thursday when U.S. Paralympic gold medalist Matt Scott and men’s basketball coach d ‘Auburn Bruce Pearl made appearances at the Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum.
Scott, who won gold with the U.S. team in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, helped Auburn’s wheelchair basketball coach Robb Taylor run the interactive skills camp on Wednesday and held interacted with the athletes during Thursday’s team games, while Pearl stopped by the gym during Thursday morning’s session to speak to the group. Male and female camp participants, ages 11-20 and hailing from around a dozen states, received high-level instruction from Taylor and Scott and a few inspiring words from Pearl.
“It was great to have Coach Pearl and to have five-time Paralympian Matt Scott here to help,” said Taylor, who won Paralympic gold as a coach for the American men’s teams and female. “These campers came to town to get better at wheelchair basketball, and we taught them the basics, shooting and passing on defense, offensive conversions all over the court and on a half court,” then we ended it with a big tournament here at the end, which the kids always love. The kids had a good mix of learning the sport, but also hearing from guys who are the best in their field in the sport, both in wheelchairs and in basketball for the able-bodied.
Pearl spoke to the group about life, basketball, overcoming obstacles, and Auburn’s potential to be a welcoming place that they can develop as students and athletes.
“Auburn is a school of everything, and it’s a place where they can be included, welcomed, feel welcome and challenged,” said Pearl. “It’s a place where people can be great. I love Auburn and I want the best and the brightest to come here and love it too.
Pearl was impressed with the level of skill displayed by the camp participants, who were able to have the full college experience staying on campus in dormitories and having their meals at the Harold D. Melton Student Center.
“I watch these athletes, and the wheelchair basketball athletes are some of the best I can see with what they are capable of,” said Pearl. “The challenges they encountered, the obstacles they had to overcome are obstacles you have to overcome, and it feels like being an Auburn student. They will face obstacles and challenges as they strive to become a great engineer, nurse, or wheelchair basketball player.
“I am impressed and inspired. “
For Scott, who will represent the United States at this summer’s Paralympic Summer Games in Tokyo on August 24. 5 — Helping Taylor and his team with the camp and having the chance to interact with the participants has been a great motivator as he prepares to help the USA team defend their gold medal.
“Being here this week meant everything to me,” said Scott, who was born with spina bifida. “I like to bring them my expertise and share my experiences with them, but I also like to absorb some of their enthusiasm. I see myself in them and I hope that my career and my life can testify to them to show that they can achieve their dreams and maybe also become Paralympians. “
Taylor relished the chance to have Scott’s help as an instructor at the camp, who also received a surprise visit from Aubie the Tiger on Wednesday.
“He’s just a great ambassador for the American team and our sport,” said Taylor, who came to Auburn in 2016. “They had the chance to speak with Matt and find out about the Paralympics and how he is. got to where it is… it’s just great, and I think it helps us differentiate our camp from some of the other camps that we have people like Matt and Coach Pearl who are willing to give back and help.
Wave of momentum
The four-day camp, which was a collaboration between the Office of Accessibility and the Office of Professional and Continuing Education at University Outreach, is now in its fourth year and has been led by Taylor and more than 10 players. and Auburn wheelchair basketball staff. His strong turnout, which included campers from about a dozen states, is another illustration of the momentum Taylor and the program are building in Auburn.
Through increased awareness and hard work, the program began to thrive. Taylor and the team administrators have been able to help renovate the team’s weight room, athletic training room and locker room with donations through Tiger Giving Day over the past several years, and he has helped guide the Tigers to a nationally best third place on the program at the end of the 2020-21 season.
A record $ 97,886 from Tiger Giving Day 2021 will help Taylor provide scholarships to the team’s student-athletes and recruit future stars in the Plains, and anyone interested in helping the team can donate throughout. year round.
“We had great support from the Auburn family through Tiger Giving Day from day one, and the family really came together this year and supported us with money for scholarships, which is one of our greatest needs, ”Taylor said. “Now we are able to recruit the best youngsters from across the country, many of whom have come to camp this week. So we’re very grateful for the support from Auburn, alumni and current students, family and friends, and it really has an impact on our program.
Pearl praised Taylor’s commitment to increasing the reach of Auburn wheelchair basketball, which will kick off its 2021-22 season Oct. 15-16 in Tuscaloosa.
“Robb Taylor has done an amazing job with this program,” said Pearl. “Auburn has done a great job supporting this program, and it’s one of the best in the country. I am so proud of how this program has represented Auburn and the progress made in recent years.
Scott, 36, was all smiles when he spoke about the current state of Auburn’s program and the sport of wheelchair basketball.
“It’s amazing what they’ve been up to here in such a short amount of time,” said Scott, a Detroit native who started playing wheelchair basketball at age 14. “I see wheelchair basketball continuing to grow. To be able to work on awareness for the Paralympic Games and wheelchair basketball and see the flowers blooming right now is truly amazing.
“Now is the perfect time to be a wheelchair basketball player.