One of a Kind
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - When you first enter the Stran-Hardin Center for Adapted Athletics on the campus of The University of Alabama you’ll probably say, “I’ve never seen a place like this.” In fact, there is no other facility of its kind like it for adapted athletes in the country.
“Our mission as a program is to give our student athletes the same opportunities that any other student athlete has on campus and this building is a great example of that and it’s the first and only right now specific to adapted sports,” explains Women’s Head Basketball Coach Ryan Hynez. In four years, Coach Hynez has won three National Championships in basketball. COVID canceled the fourth championship game. “We try to create a family environment, a family culture and then I think that kind of feeds into the championship culture that we just have here at The University Of Alabama.”
It’s a phrase you hear almost as often as National Champions around here, and another phrase you hear just as often. Family.
For basketball freshman Aaron Berry the family part is literal. “I’m from Houston, Texas, along with my brother Peter. He’s a sophomore here at Alabama also and he plays wheelchair basketball as well, so he’s on the team, too. And I decided to come to Bama because it has the best facilities, the best staff and everything or I thought was best for me. "
Family, facilities and one other shared phrase.
“Roll Tide,” says Lindsey Zurbrugg who rolled into Tuscaloosa by way of Oregon, Wisconsin, won a bronze medal in Tokyo, and came to graduate school at Alabama. All she’s done here is hit the game winning shot in the National Championship game.
Lindsey remembers the moment, “I was probably 17-feet out and saw that I was open and I’m like, ‘That was dumb of them.’ So, then I shot it. It went in. I was like. It’s over.”
In her athletic life at Alabama Avery Downing has won a combined five national championships in tennis and basketball. She’s in graduate school now studying English Literature. It isn’t easy.
“Freshman and sophomore year when I was playing both sports it was kind of like a race every day to get through the day. It takes lots of time management and organization and effort to make it all happen but it’s worth it to me. "
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