Harlon Matthews Gives Wheelchair Sports A Shot, And Realizes Wheelchair Tennis is His Best Game

Editor’s Note: After a major accident, illness or life-changing catastrophe, we have to find out who we are, who we are going to become and how we will get through life differently than originally planned. A wise person asks these questions and diligently searches for the answers to them. Some find the answers quickly, but for others, the answer takes longer. However, the answer is always there for those who seek it. Part 3 of a 5 part series.

Harlon Matthews joined a wheelchair basketball group that allowed him to stay in shape and make new friends. Once the season ended, Matthews learned about wheelchair tennis, but was uncertain and doubtful.

Harlon Matthews was uncertain about tennis at first, but little did he know that it would become his passion.

Harlon Matthews was uncertain about tennis at first, but little did he know that it would become his passion.

Matthews attended a wheelchair tennis day in Athens, Georgia. It was an incredible day because he realized how fun the sport is. His instructor helped create a zeal for sports and especially for tennis, that he never had earlier. Matthews became totally addicted tennis. He learned that in a wheelchair he could move better and faster and could be more competitive than he’d been in 1982. He was more successful in a wheelchair playing tennis, even against able bodied players, than he’d been when he was playing wheelchair basketball. Matthews explains, “I was beginning to come to terms with who I really was. I realized that having a disability was okay, which was a new revelation to me.”  

Not long after discovering his love for tennis, Matthews and the wheelchair basketball group decided to attend an all sports camp in Warm Springs, Georgia. “I felt very blessed to meet Randy Snow at this sports camp, a multi-sport paralympian,” Matthews explains. He also met Karin Korb, a paralympic medalist. Matthews could not believe the similarities between himself and these talented athletes.

Harlon Matthews, a natural born athlete.

Harlon Matthews, a natural born athlete.

Karin Korb mentored Matthews at the camp. According to Matthews, “Karin became a friend and a mentor, and she’s helped me with my career professionally and personally. She’s extremely honest and a true friend.” Matthews played basketball and tennis with Randy Snow and other wheelchair athletes. At the end of the tennis session, Snow called Matthews over to have a chat with him at the net and said, “I want to tell you something. I watched you play basketball, and I saw you shoot a 15 foot bank shot. I also saw you on the tennis court, and I can tell that you’re a natural born athlete. If you don’t keep doing these sports, you’re selling yourself short.” This was one of the best compliments that Matthews had ever received and it gave him even more motivation and drive to succeed.

Free from the bonds that had held him, and understanding that he could become something, Matthews never realized that the answer to, “What will I become now?” would come as quickly as it did.   

Next: The Moment Harlon Matthews Decided That His Life’s Purpose Is To Help Others

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com

UroMed Sponsors Texas Regional Games for Wheelchair Athletes

UroMed joined in on the festivities this weekend at the Texas Regional Games, hosted by the Southwest Wheelchair Athletic Association and San Antonio Sports on April 20-22, 2012 at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX. 

More than 75 athletes competed in 2011, according to Trinity University. More than 100 competitors were expected last weekend, including many wounded U.S. service members, in tennis, swimming, track and field trials.

Not only did we have the chance to cheer on participants at the games, we also had the pleasure of providing the 100+ athletes and volunteers with a lunch buffet during the event.  Editor’s Note: We had no idea that it was possible to eat that much pizza at one time, but the Texas athletes proved us wrong!

The Texas Regional Games offered athletes the chance to qualify for the US Paralympics and other events in the following sports: Track & Field, Swimming, Fencing, Air Guns & Archery. [Athletes must hold a 2012 IPC Athletics License in order for the results from the Texas Regional Games to count for U.S. Paralympics Track and Field National Team status, 2012 Paralympics Games qualification and/or IPC World Rankings.]

Competing athletes take aim on the archery range at the Texas Regional Games.

Competing athletes take aim on the archery range at the Texas Regional Games.

The top three finishers at the U.S. Paralympic Trials will represent the United States in late August in London at the 2012 Paralympic Games, the major international meet for athletes with a disability that’s staged every four years at the conclusion of the Olympic Games.

We caught some pictures of athletes in action, on the archery course and fencing in the gym at Trinity University, and we were thrilled that the weather turned out so beautifully during this event!

Athletes donned protective gear to take each other on during the fencing competition.

Athletes donned protective gear to take each other on during the fencing competition.

The local San Antonio newspaper also featured a wonderful story on the Texas Regional Games with additional pictures that you may want to take a minute to view. Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/An-adrenaline-junkie-in-a-racing-chair-3498652.php#ixzz1stu1RDfb

Learn more about the Texas Regional Games and see the latest event results at: http://www.sanantoniosports.org/texasregionalgames.html

If you’d like to stay informed about ongoing adaptive sports events in Texas, Sidelines, San Antonio Sports’ e-mail newsletter, is a great way to stay connected. Sidelines regularly delivers valuable news and photos about events, volunteer opportunities, youth programs and offers fun profiles of sponsors, volunteers and staff.  Sign up for it here: http://www.sanantoniosports.org/sidelines.htm

About San Antonio Sports

For 28 years, San Antonio Sports has put their city on the global stage. From NCAA Championships to the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon, the premier events they host have delivered more than $401 million for their local economy. San Antonio Sports is a nonprofit organization that works every day to transform our community through the power of sport. Year ‘round, our kids programs deliver sports and fitness programs to thousands of children in every part of our community. We’re in 262 local elementary schools with our ING Kids Rock Marathon training program and Go!Kids Challenge™. Our Dreams for Youth Afterschool Program introduces U.I.L. sport fundamentals after school to inner-city children by providing coaching, equipment, and nutrition and character-building lessons. Our Fit Family Challenge expands our kids’ fitness efforts with a fun, incentivized four-month, county-wide program for the whole family. We invite everyone to become a part of the San Antonio Sports team, as a participant, a volunteer and a member. Visit us at www.SanAntonioSports.org or call 210-820-2100.

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