Posts Tagged Brad Parks

Randy Snow And Wheelchair Tennis

I included the videos above to give you an idea of what wheelchair tennis looks like. One big difference is that two bounces are allowed, and the second one does NOT have to be within the lines. The video of Shingo Kunieda (winner of 13 Grand Slams) demonstrates at 1:08 how dexterous and fast a wheelchair tennis champion has to be.

There was a very moving, teary speech at the Hall of Fame 2012 Induction Ceremony by Randy Snow’s father. He described a son who loved athletics, was a state-ranked tennis player, but was paralyzed at 16, when a 1000-pound bale of hay fell on his back and paralyzed Randy from the waist down. At college he formed a wheelchair basketball team, did wheelchair racing, and then became the best wheelchair tennis player in the United States.

Randy won the US Open Men’s Singles wheelchair tennis championships 10 years, he won six US doubles championships, he won gold medals in tennis wheelchair singles and doubles paralympic games in 1992. And he also won basketball and racing awards, all of which you can see here .

In 1980 he connected with Marilyn Hamilton, who was disabled from a hang-gliding crash, and had developed the aluminum frame, modular Quickie wheel chair that Randy adopted for all his sports. After Randy died in 2010, Marilyn wrote, “He was the right man at the right time for wheelchair sports—a tenacious pioneer who opened doors, pushed limits, inspired some of the world’s greatest athletes, and created awareness that positively changed the attitudes of many in the able-bodied world.”

Wheelchair tennis founder Brad Parks, who is also in the Newport Hall of Fame and was at the ceremony last week, said this about Randy in 2010: “Randy was like a sponge—he just wanted to get better at everything he did…He was one of the most influential wheelchair athletes of all time.” Brad is in the video below.

By the 1990s, Randy had firmly established himself as a living legend. At the 1996 Paralympic Games, he took the Paralympic torch from President Clinton at the White House. Later, he took a torch from President George W. Bush to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act. He won accolades from four presidents—Ford, Reagan, Bush (Sr.) and Clinton—and earned a master’s degree in psychology.

Randy started his own motivational company in 1999. He called it NOXQS, “no excuses.” He became a Fortune 500 speaker, wrote several books, aspired to be a college professor and challenged listeners with such statements as “Change is inevitable; direction is choice,” and “Life takes a 100-percent, able-bodied mind to succeed.”

You can learn more here about Randy’s Push Forward Foundation and also his motivational videos, one of which is below, so you can enjoy his energy and some ideas for success. I think I saw a quote by him in the Hall of Fame that said, “I did not have a disability, but an opportunity.” or “My disability turned into a great opportunity. Either way, this remarkable man became a great athlete, leader and influence.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Inductee Stories To Applaud And Cry About At Hall Of Fame Ceremony

Capriati (left) and Seles on the podium

Last year’s group included Andre Agassi. This year (7/14) I’d heard only of Jennifer Capriati. She was introduced by earlier inductee, Monica Seles. Both women were crying like babies…so overcome with emotion and pride and thrilled to be acknowledged by their peers. Two others in the class are Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten and Randy Snow.

Other Hall of Famers on the podium included Vic Seixas (14 Grand Slams), Owen Davidson (12 GS), Rosie Casals (9GS), Stan Smith (7 GS), Gigi Fernandez (17 GS), Butch Buchholz, and Brad Parks who created wheelchair tennis competitions. Many of these wins were in doubles and mixed doubles.

The stories and histories described are powerful and overwhelming.

Monica Seles: In 1990, at the age of 16, Seles became the youngest-ever French Open champion. She went on to win eight Grand Slam singles titles before her 20th birthday and was the year-end world no. 1 in 1991 and 1992. However, in April 1993 she was the victim of an on-court attack, when a man stabbed her in the back with a 9-inch-long knife. Though she enjoyed some success after rejoining the tour in 1995, including a fourth Australian Open success in 1996, she was unable to consistently reproduce her best form.

Guga walking around the court with his certificate of induction

Jennifer Capriati: A former number one, and the winner of three women’s singles Grand Slams. She was the youngest ever player to crack the top 10 at age 14 and reached the semifinals at her first Grand Slam event—the 1990 French Open. She won a Gold Medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, defeating Steffi Graf in the final. Then she burned out in 1993, took a 14-month break from competitive pro tennis and had personal struggles that included arrests for shoplifting and possession of marijuana. She also spent time in drug rehabilitation in 1994. She then made an admirable 6-year comeback, winning her first title in 1999, then two Grand Slams in 2001, and finally becoming world number one…until injuries derailed her career in 2004.

Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten: Another former number one, he won the French Open three times (the first time when he was ranked 66 in the world). He was introduced at the ceremony Saturday by his mother, who was crying with pride, and then Guga gave a 10-minute speech without reading any notes, speaking off the cuff, and crying himself throughout. He said he can barely speak English, so how could he possibly write a speech in English. His mother told how his tennis player/coach father died when Guga was 8 in a country that adored soccer and had minimal interest in tennis. Once his talent became apparent, the family sold their car, their house, and used their savings to promote Guga’s career. It was stopped by injuries and many hip surgeries.

His youngest brother had oxygen deprivation during birth, and as a result suffered from mental retardation and severe physical disability until his death in 2007. Kuerten was deeply affected by his brother’s daily struggles, later donating the entire prize money from one tournament he won every year to a hometown NGO that provides assistance for people with similar disabilities. He gave every trophy he won to his younger brother as a souvenir, including the three miniature replicas of the French Open men’s singles trophy.

I am going to devote a separate post to Randy Snow, who was so amazing and inspirational.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,