We are proud to announce the 2018 AAASP ASPIRE Awards Nominees
— and their categories — listed below:
(read their bios below!)
Mike Phillips, Advocacy Award
Dr. Mark Scott, Advocacy Award
Dr. Robin Hines, Advocacy Award
Ken Gordon, Founders Award
Gloria Brown, Founders Award
Lori Garrett, Founders Award
George Carmel, Founders Award
Rick Devins, Media Award
Steve Henson, Founders Award
Deborah Shapiro, Advocacy Award
Virginia and Curtis Tabron, The Gail Hendricks Volunteerism Award
Demarco Pittman, Outstanding Senior Athlete Award
Madison Watts, Outstanding Senior Athlete Award
Desmand Hill, Outstanding Senior Athlete Award
Houston County Board of Education / Dr. Mark Scott and Dr. Zabrina Cannady, School-Based Program Award
Clayton County Schools, School-Based Program Award
Houston County Sharks, School-Based Program Award
Brandon Green, School-Based Program Award
Laura Zlogar, School-Based Program Award
Insperity Adaptive Sports Complex, Community-Based Program Award
53rd Air Traffic Control Squadron “Gators”, Community-Based Program Award
Logan Wegienka, Outstanding Male/Female Student Athlete Award
O’lando Hicks, Outstanding Male/Female Student Athlete Award
Keonte Rankins, Outstanding Male/ Female Student Athlete Award
Jordan Kozloski, Outstanding Male /Female Student Athlete Award
2018 AAASP ASPIRE AWARD NOMINEES
OUTSTANDING COMMUNITY-BASED PROGRAM AWARD
53rd Air Traffic Control Squadron “Gators” – Robins Air Force Base, Warner Robins, GA
The Gators offer community support to the Houston County Sharks by attending all of their practices, home and away games, and in raising awareness especially in the Air Force community. As a group, the Gators scrimmage with the players and have taken an active role in learning the AAASP rules of play for each team sport and have shown great interest about the different disabilities the student athletes have.
Insperity Adaptive Sports Complex – A cooperative effort between the Humble Texas Independent School District and Lake Houston YMCA, Houston, TX
This four-acre complex constructed within one year of Hurricane Harvey has two multi-purpose adaptive sports fields, a barrier free playground, and a multi-purpose covered pavilion. The project was a collaboration between the Adapted Sports Departments at Humble ISD, the Lake Houston YMCA, the Greater Houston area businesses, foundations, charities and individuals. Getting the kids onto the fields after Harvey brought a sense of normalcy and pride to see the joy it provided. The complex is used jointly by the school district and the YMCA.
OUTSTANDING SCHOOL-BASED PROGRAM AWARD
CLAYTON EAGLES, Clayton County Public Schools, Jonesboro, GA
Clayton County Public Schools has supported its adapted sports teams over many years. And, despite recent budget cuts, the district provided additional funding to help with program growth. Clayton Schools has an outstanding team of dedicated staff working together to enrich the lives of student athletes and a proven track record of success. We specifically also single out, Brandon Green, former coach of the Eagles. When Brandon started working with the program, Clayton only had one JV wheelchair football team. Within a few years the program grew to include varsity teams in all three adapted team sports. Not only did Brandon help with these efforts but he also recruited over 20 new athletes. He has a wonderful ability to inspire the students with great enthusiasm and commitment.
HOUSTON SHARKS, Houston County Schools & Board of Education, Warner Robins, GA
The Houston County Sharks program has grown from 7 members to 26 with two teams in both the JV & Varsity divisions in each sport. The Sharks have won an impressive 21 state championships and are a recognized team in the Middle GA area. Coordinator, Christy Jones and her coaches have worked diligently in building a stellar program with enthusiastic support from the Board of Education, government officials, media and the community at-large. The Houston County Board of Education’s support has been a major reason why the Sharks adapted sports program has grown and succeeded as it has. This program has changed the lives of the student athletes and improved the quality of their school experience. They don’t give up or stop pushing for their student athletes to have every opportunity available to showcase their many talents and skills.
LAKEWOOD HIGH SCHOOL ADAPTED ATHLETICS, Highlands Ranch, CO – Retired Teacher, Laura Zlogar, Founder
Eight years ago, Laura started an adapted wheelchair basketball league that included nine high schools encompassing a seven-week schedule and ending with a March Madness event. As the program has grown it has given Jeffco County school students with disabilities the chance to learn to play and compete in a variety of sports. Laura hopes the program continues to grow and praises the coordinator and superintendent for their staunch support.
MEDIA “HERO” AWARD-For Efforts to Ensure That No Aspiring Athlete is Sidelined Due to a Disability
Rick Devens, WGXA Channel 24, Macon, GA
Rick works diligently to support the Houston County School adapted sport program. Each year he invites the coaches to talk on air about the Sharks. This media attention has helped raise awareness about the program and Rick is always excited to report on the accomplishments of the team. His favorite moment came while playing an exhibition game with the Houston County Sharks. Rick says, “the smallest girl I’ve ever seen play any kind of sport knocked me out of my chair as we fought over a loose basketball”.
OUTSTANDING SENIOR AWARD
Desmand Hill – Clayton Eagles – Given posthumously
Desmand Hill was a talented athlete who set a great example of sportsmanship for his other team members. He competed in wheelchair handball and football for four years with the Eagles, always bringing his best efforts in this and everything he did. On March 11 of this year, while still a senior at Mundy’s Mill High School, Desmand passed away due to apparent cardiac arrest. Those whose lives he touched in his short time here on earth will always remember him with fondness and appreciation.
Demarco Pittman – Clayton Eagles
Demarco brings positive energy to the team and is proud of their accomplishments. Some of his recent achievements include: Football Captain 2017-2018, President of the Sign Language Club 2018, a Youth Mentor 2017-2018 and he is in his high school’s Leadership program. Demarco broke the school adapted sports record by scoring 20 points in wheelchair basketball in 2018.
Madison Watts – Houston Sharks
Madison has dealt with many medical issues the past five years. Still, she worked hard to push through the walls, boundaries and struggles of it all. Madison has demonstrated great courage and strength and proven her ability as an outstanding student athlete. Her favorite moments include: Her team, the Sharks, winning the AAASP/GHSA state titles in Football, Basketball and Handball in 2016-17. She also won the 2018 GHSA Wheelchair State Track Shotput event.
OUTSTANDING ATHLETE AWARDS (Male & Female)
Olando Hicks – Houston Sharks
Olando has played for the Sharks for 8 years and is an integral part of his team’s success. His athleticism and leadership abilities have made him a key player on the team. Olando’s coach describes him as one of the most coachable athletes she has had the pleasure of working with in her 20 years of coaching.
Jordon Kozloski – Houston Sharks
Jordan has excelled both as an athlete and a student during her 10 years of playing for the Sharks. She is dedicated, driven and consistent in her desire to be the best she can be. In addition to competing for the Sharks, Jordan plays for the Wheelchair Hawks and the Charlotte women’s team. Jordan was selected to try out for the USA’s national women’s wheelchair basketball team, one of only 15 girls nationally who were chosen. She was also selected as first alternate for the USA Women’s National travel team.
Keonte Rankins – Clayton Eagles
In Keonte’s first year of playing for the team he completely committed to the team aspect without hesitation. He quickly alleviated any concern his coach may have had about how Keonte would respond to playing wheelchair sports since he had previously competed in traditional school sports. As the team’s most valuable player, he also takes extra time after practices and games to work with his teammates and to help them be successful as well.
Logan Wegienka – West GA Wolverines
Logan has played for the Wolverines for 10 years and has grown into a team leader. He is the team captain, a role he takes very seriously. For example, Logan took it upon himself to organize an additional practice for a new teammate who could not make it to the regularly scheduled practice and spent countless hours making sure his teammate understood the rules. Logan also organized a game at his high school between the facility and the Wolverines as a fundraiser for St. Jude and to raise awareness for children who have brain cancer.
ADVOCACY AWARD-For Extraordinary Efforts on Behalf of Disabled Athletes
Dr. Robin Hines-Executive Director, GHSA
As the former Superintendent of Houston County Schools, Dr. Hines knew immediately the right decision was made to provide this opportunity and that there was no program in the entire system that was more impactful. He describes the 2018 Basketball Championship in Macon as incredible in what appeared to be a blowout in the first half turned into a closely decided “down to the wire” contest. Now serving as the Executive Director of Georgia High School Association, Dr. Hines looks forward to growing Adapted Sports through the GHSA/AAASP alliance.
Mike Phillips-Adapted Sports Coordinator-Gwinnett County Public Schools
Since starting the program in Gwinnett County Public Schools ten years ago, Mike has worked to grow the program and create an experience for the student athletes they will never forget.
Mike’s favorite moment was in 2012 when the Gwinnett Heat had an undefeated season and won their first wheelchair varsity state championship. Those first athletes helped lay the foundation for the Gwinnett Heat. Mike continues to be a staunch advocate for student success through Adapted Sports.
Dr. Mark Scott-Superintendent-Houston County Schools
The Board of Education’s support in Houston County has been a major reason why the program has grown and succeeded as it has. This program has changed the lives of the student athletes and has improved the quality of their school experience. Dr. Scott’s favorite moment is seeing the smile on the face of an athlete that just made their first basket, scored their first touchdown, or gotten the ball past the goal keeper. He has seen players literally grow up and develop into fierce competitors.
Dr. Deborah Shapiro-Professor, Georgia State University & AAASP Board of Directors
Since joining AAASP as a young professional 15 years ago, Deborah has charted a path in her teaching and research career, advancing our understanding of the impact of adapted sports on the athletes, families and community at large. She has seen first-hand how adapted sports help transform the lives of these athletes and she requires her college students to get involved. She hopes their interest and exposure will produce more advocates for locally-based sport opportunities and lead her students to choose careers in adapted sports.
GAIL HENDRICK VOLUNTEERISM AWARD-For Unselfish Commitment and Contribution to Disabled Athletes and Their Programs
Curtis & Virginia Tabron, Houston Sharks, Warner Robins, GA
Virginia and Curtis have been steadfast in their dedication to the Houston County Sharks by volunteering for the team as table officials since the program’s first state championship. They bring an invaluable service to the program through their consistency and professionalism. The first time they volunteered they thought it would be a one-time adventure, but seven years later they are still volunteering and feel their lives have been enriched through the experience.
GLORIA BROWN Adapted Sports Coordinator/Coach-Muscogee County Schools (Retired)
Gloria has been a Health and Physical Education teacher for 28 years. She helped start the Muscogee Adapted Sports program and was in awe of the players; regardless of their disability, as they gave all they had while having a great time. She consistently tells others that the program is a great way for students with a disability to get involved in sports and experience all of the benefits sport teach, that lead to life success. Gloria shares that “working with the Adapted Sports Program has been one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life; the kids in the program are the best.”
GEORGE CARMEL -President-FlagHouse, Inc.-Hasbrouck Heights New Jersey
Under George’s leadership for the past 33 years, FlagHouse – a leading supplier of sport equipment and educational resources in recreation and education – has developed and maintained an unparalleled commitment to innovation, inclusion and the advancement of opportunities and healthy lifestyles for persons with disabilities. George is actively engaged with many non-profit’s with missions to help others in almost every category of need in the US, Canada and overseas. He shares that “however one chooses to be involved in serving others – one gets back far more than one gives. Knowing we help AAASP deliver on its mission – through our joint effort to develop and make available Adapted Sports Kits for program start-ups and sustainability – is the biggest reward for me and the FlagHouse team.”
LORI GARRETT – Director-Services for Exceptional Children-Meriwether County Schools (Retired)
In her role as Director of Services for Exceptional Children, Lori was a tremendous supporter of the district’s adapted sports program, the West GA. Wolverines. Knowing that her rural community had needs beyond her own school system, Lori has worked to maintain the Wolverines as a PROGRAM COOP, serving Meriwether and surrounding counties in cooperation with the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation. She recognizes the importance and impact the program has had on students with physical disabilities and has been an extraordinary administrator and advocate.
Ken Gordon – AAASP/GHSA Game Official-1998-2018
Ken has been a dedicated AAASP official for the past 20 years. At each game, he is consistent in the administration of his officiating duties and takes great joy in knowing these students are competing in school sports like other kids do. One of his most memorable moments came during a championship basketball game between the Macon Bears and the Columbia County Fireballs when the three-point line was the line of pick up for varsity and JV. Israel Shultz kept hitting three pointers. The game went into over-time and the Fireballs lost when Israel missed a layup! “The intensity and competitiveness of that game was unforgettable.”
STEVE HENSON – State Senator, DeKalb County, GA. AAASP Board President 2008-2016
Steve Henson has been actively involved with AAASP since its inception. Senator Henson has graciously and unselfishly lent his support, guidance and expertise to the organization. As Board President, he helped guide AAASP through many challenges with great determination and wisdom. He offers consistent support at the state level in helping to garner the much-needed resources for the organization to operate effectively.