Internationally-Known Athlete Scot Hollonbeck Says You Are Who You Run With

Editor’s Note: Internationally-known athlete Scot Hollonbeck, today of Decatur, Georgia, realized that one of the key elements to a successful life was to keep successful people around him for encouragement, support and knowledge. Part 4 of a 5-part series.

Scot Hollonbeck shares Part 4 of his story.

One of the biggest influences on Scot Hollonbeck’s transition from being a spectator in life to creating a new life for himself was some of the people he met at a camp for disabled athletes at the University of Illinois after his accident. “Not all the people and the coaches at this camp were in wheelchairs, but they used wheelchairs like some people use cars,” Hollonbeck says.

“I learned that when you get around people who are getting-on with life after their accidents, you quickly learn that you can too. They inspired and motivated me to inspire others. These people were fully engaged in their pursuits and didn’t allow their wheelchairs to get in the way.

What really blew my mind was that these people were certified athletes. They were training, and they were focused on their goals of becoming better athletes. I immediately decided that that’s what I wanted to do, and those were the people I wanted around me. They were so focused on what they could do and accomplish that they didn’t think about what they couldn’t do. I decided that being in a wheelchair didn’t mean I couldn’t go to college, which my family wouldn’t have accepted anyway. My father expected me to continue to contribute to my family by doing all my chores. He never accepted the idea that being in a wheelchair excused me from not contributing to society.” 

Hollonbeck chose bioscience as his major in college, because he was interested in how the human body worked and how he could make it work better to reach his athletic goals. He also studied business. Hollonbeck was almost born into the business world. His grandfather owned a sales barn in the 1950s and the 1960s, selling everything from livestock to farm equipment and anything else anyone wanted to sell. The selling structure at the sales barn was like a weekly auction. That’s where Hollonbeck got his roots in promoting, selling and earning money.

Scot coaching athletes at an Emory University Training camp

Scot coaching athletes at an Emory University Training camp

His father was multi-talented – working as an optometrist, training and racing surrey carts and conducting a real-estate business. While in college, Hollonbeck promoted and conducted road races, which included a 5K and a 10K race and wheelchair participants.

“Remember that in the 1980s, most people didn’t know how to accept wheelchair-bound people in life, let alone accept them in athletics,” Hollonbeck mentions. “When I was growing-up as a young man without a disability, there were a number of sports in which I could participate, but when I became disabled, there were very-few sports in which I could participate. And, I only had those sports, because of people like my swim-team coach who wouldn’t take no for an answer when I tried to explain why I couldn’t be on the team. Today’s youngsters in wheelchairs can’t play park sports or high-school varsity sports, because there aren’t teams for wheelchair athletes. That’s how I got involved in using sporting recreation as a vehicle for changing social attitudes about the physically impaired.”

Hollonbeck started promoting road races his freshman year in high school. Then he became a member of his high-school track team. “Back then, I was told NO a number of times when I talked to promoters about having wheelchair divisions in road races,” Hollonbeck mentions.

But rather than being defeated by the naysayers, Hollonbeck was inspired. He decided to create and promote road races himself and to include a wheelchair division in them. Then wheelchair athletes could compete with able-bodied athletes, instead of getting mad and depressed.

Scot encourages another wheelchair racer to succeed.

Scot encourages another wheelchair racer to succeed.

When he started college, he continued to promote the races through the university and student organizations and raised money for Wheels for the World organization. “We collected money to buy wheelchairs for people inSouth America who didn’t have them but desperately needed them,” Hollonbeck explains.

Even in the early years of his career, Hollonbeck developed a funding program to solve problems for other people around the world with physical disabilities whose lives could be improved dramatically by a wheelchair. Hollonbeck also had an inline skating division for the races he promoted and included a 1-mile fun run. His first race brought-out 270 athletes, including 21-wheelchair racers, and raised about $5,000 – a large number of people for central Illinois.

“I learned that rather than whining and complaining about the way things were, I could take action and change those things I didn’t like,” Hollonbeck comments. “You can do something about whatever problem you have. I’ve learned to channel my frustrations and turn them into positive actions to make changes. This technique has helped me throughout my entire life. When I see something that isn’t right or that should be done another way, I decide to change things, rather than just complaining and getting upset about them.”

Part of Scot Hollonbeck’s philosophy can be summed-up with the admonition to never be a minimalist. Most people and most athletes are satisfied with graduating college and being a national and an international athlete, but not Hollonbeck. For him, good wasn’t good enough. In his heart, he knew that if he studied, trained and disciplined himself, he had the potential to be the best.

Tomorrow: Athlete Scot Hollonbeck Has Proved that What’s Impossible Can Be Possible

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

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One Response to Internationally-Known Athlete Scot Hollonbeck Says You Are Who You Run With

  1. Pingback: Athlete Scot Hollonbeck Consciously Decides to Live Life to the Fullest « UroMed Catheter Health Blog

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