The University of Alabama

UA Adapted Athletics to Hold ‘Night of Champions’ Celebration

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama’s Adapted Athletics program began in 2003 with just one team.

But players, coaches and administrators had a blueprint for success: lofty goals, hard work and continuous financial support.

Thirteen years later, the program has won seven national championships in three different sports and sent countless athletes and coaches to the Paralympics.

UA Adapted Athletics and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute will celebrate the program’s successes during “Night of Champions,” Thursday, Feb. 25, at the Bryant Conference Center on the UA campus.

The event begins at 5 p.m. and is open and free to the public. Door prizes will be awarded and food and drink will be provided. The first 250 attendees will receive free tickets to the UA Collegiate Classic, a four-school men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball tournament, Feb. 26-27 at UA.

“The growth of the Adapted Athletics program at The University of Alabama is a reflection of the hard work and determination of our coaches and student-athletes,” said UA President Stuart R. Bell. “The University and Tuscaloosa community are excited to celebrate the program’s achievements and support them in competition this week.”

Night of Champions guest speakers will include Jannik Blair, UA wheelchair basketball player and Paralympic silver medalist; Dr. Margaret Stran, former U.S. basketball Paralympian and assistant director of UA Adapted Athletics; and Mackenzie Soldan, UA wheelchair basketball and tennis player and two-time U.S. Paralympian.

“We are excited to be able to present the Adapted Athletics program to the community through the Night of Champions event,” said Dr. Brent Hardin, director UA Adapted Athletics. “This event is sponsored by the Olli program, and they have put together a really interesting and fun program that the entire family will enjoy. Awareness is one of our biggest obstacles, and this type of an event really helps us increase the awareness of our program.”

UA Adapted Athletics now includes more than 30 student-athletes in women’s basketball, men’s basketball, wheelchair tennis, para-rowing and adapted golf. More than 100 students participate in the program’s noncompetitive sports options. Seven UA student-athletes have qualified for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, and more than 20 current and former student athletes from UA are expected to compete this summer.

Dr. Robert Witt, chancellor of the UA System and former UA president, will be inducted into the National Collegiate Wheelchair Basketball Intercollegiate Division Hall of Fame at halftime of the UA women’s game on Friday, Feb. 26 at Foster Auditorium.

Witt is the first administrator, coach or student-athlete affiliated with UA to be inducted into the NWBA Hall of Fame. He will be honored for his contributions to adapted sport at both UA and the University of Texas at Arlington, where he served as president prior to his appointment at UA.

“In many ways, my selection is more about Brent Hardin and Margaret Stran than it is about me,” Witt said. “Their passion, drive and hard work created a program here that has attracted national acclaim as a model for the country.”

The UA men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball teams will close the season 2015-16 season with multiple games over a two-day stretch. Games will be split between Foster Auditorium and the UA Rec Center. The schedule is as follows:

– Noon, Feb. 26 (Rec Center) – Alabama men vs. Auburn

– 6 p.m., Feb. 26 (Foster) – Alabama women vs. UT-Arlington

– 8 p.m. Feb. 26 (Foster) – Alabama men vs. UT-Arlington

– 1 p.m. Feb. 27 (Rec Center) – Alabama women vs. Arizona

– 5 p.m. Feb. 27 (Rec Center) – Illinois women vs. Alabama

– 7 p.m. Feb.27 (Rec Center) – Illinois men vs. Alabama

UA’s games will be broadcast live on WVUA23 in Tuscaloosa.

For more information, including tickets to the games, visit http://alabamaadapted.com/tickets-now-on-sale-for-february-26-games/.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.