Sub zero wind chills, countless days of throwing heaps of fluffy white stuff, days on end without a single glint from that yellow orb in the sky, you know its time. Days are getting longer, only slightly, but they are. It’s the perfect time for a few winter activities that revolve among the fly community. The F3T and Fly Fishing Expos across the country. Some choose to sit on the solid ice and stare at an illuminated hole waiting for the wire indicator to dance while others are steadfast in refilling missing rows of beadhead nymphs and articulated feather minnow imitations- whichever you are, I encourage you to get out to one of the many showings of The Fly Fishing Film Festival (the F3T). The quality of fish porn looks promising and as usual there shall be an equal dose of conservation and future concerns for the fly fishing industry ever present in more than one trailer. Here in Michigan, there seem to be more venues to watch the F3T than a mere 6 or 7 years ago. Places like Marquette and Newaygo, Midland and even Boyne Falls are on the F3T radar. Please do your best, get to a show and display support for your local fly shop that does a stand up job of showcasing the many proud moments the Fly Community. Here is a listing of F3T shows in Michigan:
February 3, Boyne Falls
February 10, Marquette
March 2, Ann Arbor
March 3, Grand Rapids (2 shows)
March 7, Midland
Some dates have yet to be confirmed on the F3T site: check with local fly shops in Traverse City, Muskegon, Sault Ste. Marie, and Rochester for show times and dates. I will most likely make more than one show, one night might be a guys night to exchange rancorous tales of a wishful Trout Bum lifestyle, and the other will be an elegant date night, in comparison, where I am thankful to be submersed in the guide lifestyle we have come to appreciate.
The fly tying den, aka my basement, resembles the embryonic stage of a fly shop in making… tying materials are strewn from table to desk, rods and waders are drying out among reels that have been cleaned and re-lined for future warmer days and a large heap of TFO rods are neatly organized in a corner waiting for the trip to Grand Rapids this weekend. The West Michigan Fly Show is in its second year at East Kentwood High School and the Great Lakes Council of Fly Fishers has extended it to a two day event. Many have expressed concern that a two day show in bible belt west Michigan may have a lack luster showing on a Sunday, but I feel many who attend the Church of the River will attend mass either one or both days. Share this post on your various media outlets and tell me so at the GR Show, I may have a special gift for you.
If you haven’t noticed, Temple Fork Outfitters has a created a bit of excitement in the fly rod market this season. ‘Bear’ Andrews and myself will be on hand to show many of you the versatilities of the new DRIFT rod as well as the unmatched capabilities of the AXIOM II rod– who many have claimed as a next level BVK. Along with the a selection Spey rods, BVK, Mangrove, Pro II and NXT kits, we are more than happy to find the TFO rod you are looking for.
Look for the Temple Fork Tent and we shall be amid the many anglers testing out the new POWER REEL from TFO. The multiple conical spring washers and carbon fiber-stainless steel brake system give this reel a stopping power so smooth, it really has to be felt to believe.
The following week, I will be traveling to Lebanon, Indiana for the Heartland Fly Fishing Festival. Fellow TFO Ambassador, Captain Austin Adduci will be giving a presentation on the water he loves to fish near the Chicagoland area. This is a two day event featuring many well known local guides, tyers and fly shops, look forward to meeting a few new faces.
At the end of the month, there will be screening in Petoskey of ‘Young Hemingways Enduring Eden’ a very exciting project I have been involved with for a couple years. Fans of Hemingway will appreciate.
Early March, snow melts and steelhead dreams are more vibrant and real, as is the approach of the Midwest Fly Expo in Warren Michigan. A stellar cast of speakers will be on hand this year, including Tom Rosenbauer, Eric Stroup, Phil Rowley and Tom Baltz along with TFO ESOX man Blane Chocklett. The entire TFO Crew will be on hand and happy to show you the rods and reels you have come to appreciate. We challenge you to find a better value/warranty and customer service from a rod & reel manufacturer on the market. Please stop by the Temple Fork Outfitters Booth and say ‘Whats Up?” We look forward to sharing a few stories.
It never ceases to amaze me when retail stores transition from Halloween Spooky Deals straight to Christmas Cheer without even a pause for the consideration of the family turkey. Yet, here we are, less than a week away from eating too much stuffing and exchanging names for secret Santas, while planning holiday get togethers amid an orchestra of children’s school performances and neighborhood Christmas caroling. It has been a privilege and honor for me to share with you a few special items that not only I have thoroughly enjoyed using in the past few years, but also things that are on my personal wish list. Keep in mind, these are not in any special order, nor are they given to me as promotional test products for True North to review, they are merely Christmas Wish List items I would have circled in my favorite fly shop catalog much the same way I would have done in the Sears full Christmas catalog of my childhood, sans the crayons.
Every year someone asks me “What rod do I get (so-&-So) for Christmas? They already have everything…” and I feel your pain. For most, it is simple, we already have plenty of the run-of-the-mill, basic five weight rods in our arsenal, and it makes the next step easy. What does he or she fish for? Larger fish> go with a 7 or 8 weight rod, might I suggest the stunning new & improved and ultra powerful AXIOM II from Temple Fork Outfitters, and that pairs nicely with the stunning POWER REEL, that just landed on our shores in October. My fishing buddy, Matt, from Connected Guide Service, said it best when we were playing with an early version of the rod~ “It has plenty of backbone and asks you to give it more, just like the BVK, but with more (insert power adjective).” I totally agree. Re-designed from the previous Axiom series- focusing on the angler rather than the other way around, this rod has immaculate casting prowess and precise delicacy for intimate presentations. It weighs less than 3 ounces for the 5wt and 4.5 ounces for the 12wt, without sacrificing power, higher modulus graphite has upped the game on many rods, making them lighter and stronger. If salt is your game, this rod has already proven its worth battling 30 consecutive 100# tarpon in the Florida Keys. Prices range from $340 for the 5 weight to $360 for 12 weight. For the price, this rod will perform and surpass rods twice the price.
But what if your secret Santa recipient prefers long lines, nymphs or small stream brook trout? Might I suggest the new DRIFT rod from TFO> a multi-function 3 weight rod that can transform from a 9′ to 10′ rod by adding a 12″ section, or adding a 27″ section to make a 11’3″ nymphing rod, or both for a 12’3″ trout spey/tight line nymphing rod. The addition of a 3″ cork butt replaces the fighting butt for trout spey casting. The innovation for the design concept comes from Jason Randall, Midwest photographer, author and angler, who challenged TFO to devise a multi-use rod that allows the angler to replace sections of the rod without re-lining the entire set up. The guides are a patent-pending semicircle that resembles the rings on a basketball hoop, think stringing up a net for a backyard pick up game of 3 on 3. Lefty Kreh claims it to be one of the single most innovative things he has seen in the fly industry in years. Be sure to find a dealer near you to assist with matching you with the perfect Temple Fork Rod. IN Michigan: Ron’s Fly Shop in Grayling, The Northern Angler in TC, Great Lakes Fly Shop in Rockford, Uncle Jake’s in Battle Creek, Nomad Anglers in Grand Rapids & East Lansing, Muskegon River Fly Shop in Newaygo to name a few. Dealer Locator
So you don’t have anyone with BIG items on your list, let me give you a few ideas that I have used and my daily trips on the river have benefitted from using.
KAST GLOVES~ no, they are not cheap, but when I am rowing down the river and the sleet/snow is coming at me sideways with 25 mph gusts, my hands are the last thing that goes numb. Trust me, they are worth every penny. I bought a pair over five years ago, last year I jumped in and helped sponsor a Kickstarter for KAST and have never regretted buying a second pair. I use them raking, shoveling, snowplowing, hiking in the woods, brushing off my wife’s truck, and I stay dry and warm. Price $99
Tacky Fly Box~ innovative, sturdy, visible, and pretty darn good looking. They keep your flies right where you need them. A few years ago, these guys hit the fly market from out of nowhere, now they are appearing in every catalog and in many vests and sling packs around the world. Get yours. Price $25-45.
Scientific Anglers Amplitude MPX~ Cannot say enough about how well this line casts. AST plus additive gives this line a superior shooting ability and durability. It is simply amazing. As the line ages and you clean it, more plaston bubbles ‘migrate’ or get exposed at the surface. Performance is not sacrificed and will continue to do the job. This line will last up to 4X longer than other competitor lines. Price $129.
“Modern Nymphing– European Inspired Techniques“~ Devin Olsen and Lance Egan made this video a couple years ago, and I still plug it in to watch while tying a few Tungsten Surveyors. The simple step by step presentation and how effective straight line nymphing can be is nothing short of stellar. Grab a copy of this DVD and incorporate some Euro style nymphing in your river outings. Follow these guys at Tactical Fly Fisher. Price $29.99
“From Lure to Fly” by Dave Karczynski/Orvis~ Dave has the ability to fish with many great anglers, and even myself on occasion, and he notices the most subtle events catch a few fish, traveling from Poland to northern Michigan, from Argentina to northern Wisconsin, and he keeps it all in perspective. He is a true trout bum, sleeping in his VW Jetta waiting for the local bakery to open so he could wash his face and thaw his fingers over a cup a coffee and an eclair before hitting the river. This book puts what many of us already know into a perspective that may help get a few who were interested in the world of fly fishing but intimated by the binomial nomenclature out on the river. Pick it up and prepare to get involved, teaching, sharing and enjoying, not to mention the photography of the many places Dave K. has been and where fly fishing can take you. Amazon price $16.83, Lyons Press $24.95
YETI Rambler Tumbler20/30~ those of you who take your coffee serious, I know I have met a few of you, you want to keep it hot and fresh as long as you can. Yeti drinkware will keep your cold beverages cold and hot drink/soup hot for hours. There are knock offs, I’ve used them and they do compare, but for the extra $$ I am going with the first on the block. Price $29.99-49.99
“Trout Tips” Kirk Deeter/Trout Unlimited~ A few years ago, TU asked it’s members to send in a few tips that save them time or money on the water. The result? A compilation of more than 250 tips ranging from fly choice, presentations, and water conditions to line maintenance and proper casting can help anyone from novice to expert. We are always learning and continue this journey in this great little book. Perfect stocking stuffer. Skyhorse Publishing, Price $16.95
FISHPRINT SHOP~ Do you know someone who caught the fish of a lifetime, and they let it go? This is perfect way to capture that memory. A high quality Joe Tomelleri reprint of any species, fresh or saltwater, worthy of matting and framing, for a fraction of a replica. Simple procedure: tell them a little about where (body of water) you caught it, date of catch, lure(fly), angler and length of fish, this will be incorporated on the print under Field Notes. Tell them True North Trout sent you. Great gift for the accomplished angler who has everything, and a great way to celebrate a good catch. Winner ICAST 2017 BEST GIFT CATEGORY. Price range $125.00-225.00 + $5 per inch over 46″
DEREK DEYOUNG COFFEE MUG~ Many anglers enjoy their favorite cup of Java in a DeYoung Mug. I have a couple and they have been around for a few years, most local fly shops will carry a couple. I picked mine up at Dave Leonhard’s StreamSide Orvis in TC. DeYoung Studio offers an extensive selection of drinkware ranging from shot glasses, rock glasses and pilsners to travel coffee mugs and stainless steel mugs. You can also find unique Mayfly DeYoung wrapping paper for the rest of your holiday gift wrapping. (Best In Show New Item 2017 ICAST $15) Mugs range from $20-99(set)
These are just a few of the thousands of options out there in the vast world of fly fishing. The obvious choice is a gift certificate from True North Trout for a day on the river. Please are with your fishy friends and family. Have a wonderful Christmas Season!!
To my friends,
I was 92 in January and had a carotid artery operation. During testing the hospital determined my heart was only pumping 35% and must limit my physical activities followed by a rest. The industry was extremely helpful and last season was able to attend the shows, clinics, etc.
Several weeks ago, I realized I was developing another problem, which is normal for someone nearly 93. It turns out I have congested heart failure. My pacemaker revealed there was a series of very rapid hear beats, which could cause a stroke. Fortunately a lot of doctor/friends are fly-fisherman and worked with me. In summary I have to give up travel and presentations as in the past.
Everyone produces a certain amount of fluid in the body and excretes the excess. Because of the low heartbeat my body is not getting rid of all the fluids and I gained weight. My best friend Dr. Mark Lamos put me in the hospital and with back procedure they twice removed a liter and a half of fluid from my chest. After five days in the hospital. I lost weight.
A week or so later I starting gaining weight again so it was back in the hospital for the same treatment. They reduced most of the fluid and returned home. I determined I was not going to continue back to the hospital. Mark decided to use medicine to control the excess fluid. It’s been a fine-tuning situation but looks like it’s starting work.
This means the schedule I lived for decades is no longer valid and will spend most my time at home. As we get older we learn to adjust to what we can and cannot do. I have a number of interesting computer home projects on the computer and busier than a Syrian bricklayer. I’m not frustrated and I’m content My problem is I don’t have a lot of stamina and have to work around that. If Marks medical system works I should be busy and around for a year or two.
I would like to be able to send this email to my friends but I don’t really know how to do this. So I’m asking others to help me spread the word through email. Because my lack of energy and stamina I having trouble answering emails (there are more than 400 on the computer) and not talking much on the phone. This is not meant to be unfriendly is learning to adjuster my situation.
In summary I’m busy and content but I want you to know I am so appreciative you’ve have shared your lives with me.
All The Best Friends,
Lefty Kreh has been one of the most influential personalities in the fly fishing community for decades. Not only on current fly rod manufacturers and designers, but also on how we cast and how to better improve our casting. I have never been able to meet in person, but have heard countless stories of how he always gave more of himself than requested. One occasion, a client paid for casting lessons for his wife with Lefty at a Midwest Expo, Lefty happened to be staying at the same hotel and they ended up spending more than a couple hours trading stories and working on her casting. He would also pull a volunteer from a standing room only crowd at the casting pond from various tours across the country. After asking the young, physically fit angler to cast as much line as he could, Lefty would proceed to empty the reel of all line to the backing on the floor in front of him.Then, in one or two short backcasts, he would send the entire length of the line sailing through the air.
“well young man, you were just schooled by a 90 year old.” and we LOVED it.
Please share this and other stories you may have had to help cherish all the great things Lefty has done for us and our fly fishing community.
Pay close attention to TFO Facebook page for future updates.
The Monday of August 21, many stood outside with fancy NASA edition safety glasses to witness a total solar eclipse that was nothing more than a hazy dusk type afternoon with fuzzy shadows in the Great Lakes region. I was getting amped up for a less exciting planetary observation that would take place on a cold river near home with the guys from Hook Shots, Joe Cermele and fellow guide Joe Demalderis from Upper Delaware. After meeting up at local motel near my house, we made plans for dinner and grabbed a beer and burger at 7 Monks down the road and got to our put in.
After a few technical details were laid out, we were off and sweating in some upper 80 degree heat with a chance of showers rolling through around 9 pm.
Wood, wood and more wood. “There isn’t enough cover in this river.” said no one ever.
We were drenched in a short while, and only had two small fish to the net. This was a good ‘getting their waders wet’ type of night, and they were more than prepared for what was to come the next evening. For the day, we opted for some basic brook trout chasing and fought a cold front along with wind, but the Hippie Stomper and some Isonychia’s were producing a couple takes.
It was an absolute blast fishing with these two guys, they worked hard, had fun and took home a few memories. It really doesn’t get much better than that; oh, and we caught a couple trout. Small part of me was hoping we would tag a couple swamp donkeys in the 24″+ range, but it wasn’t in the cards. IN retrospect, maybe it is a good thing. Makes these anglers want for more, and in their dreams they will be haunted by the cedars and cool flowing rivers that hold some serious brown trout…
Check the rest of the video out on Field & Stream below…
How was your Summer? Besides fast, way too fast, it was certainly wet. Fishy and wet. June seemed to be the month of summer that appeared to be on par with a warm one, then a sudden shift in weather pattern made for a rather damp June. Keep in mind, I am speaking of northern Michigan, many parts of the country experienced some of the driest seasons in the past few months, but not near the 45th parallel. Our water levels are, put it mildly, on the high side. Docks that were dry only five years ago have waterlines at or above the deck. This also made for some very unique and interesting fishing.
The Hex hatch seemed to start off with a bang, mid June temps quickly reached a prime 80º to elicit hatch activity and many anglers were excited to get out of town and head north. Then, without warning, a sudden drop in temperature and a deluge of rain caused for the magnificent large mayfly to pull a Houdini trick- or did they? Sporadic hatches occurred on rivers across the region, but mostly at the same time. Some rivers reported very little activity and still others were in full limbata glory. I tried to steer clients to waters that had less pressure, but the trout proved picky and selective. A few decent fish were boated and their healthy disposition backs up a theory that the higher water and mild winters have been good for much of our trout population, pure speculation by a non fisheries biologist.
Thank you to the many new clients and always deepest gratitude to our regular anglers who we look forward to fishing with every season. A few shots from the summer of 2017:
There is plenty of great fishing for the rest of the year. Fall streamer fishing is shaping up to be the best one could hope for, colors on the fish and forest are well worth a float down a favorite river. We are getting into a few decent rodent munching midnight monsters, book a trip with True North Trout, we look forward to sharing some time on the river.
The rollercoaster ride that is spring Up North has been nothing short of eventful. Two weeks ago, the mercury danced near 70 degrees, and two days later, cold rain, more of a deluge of water and plummeting temperatures in the 40’s that would deter most anglers who have a date set for the river. We were not that easily diverted. The river had crested around 1840 cfs and was beginning to recede. The boat launch was at least a foot above normal flow and the current readily noticed as we eased the Costa Blue Adipose in the side seam.
We managed a few decent ‘Tweeners’ early in the float, and even saw a bigger flash and swirl from the depths but nothing above the 18″ mark. Water pushed us faster than normal float time, but this was to our advantage. We have intentions of doing a second leg after lunch.
We were on a mission to compare a few rods. The Temple Fork Outfitters line in particular. Recently being turned on to the Mini Mag by Ray and Kate after I inquired last fall about the best all around northern Michigan daytime streamer/night-mousing rod available, TFO Mini-Mag totally makes sense. This compact rod design was originally aimed at B.A.S.S. anglers, being just under 8′ regulation for tournament competition, but equally perfect for tight cedar corridors and throwing heavy water-logged streamers and deer hair mouse patterns. The power in lifting articulated flies is attributed to the high modulus graphite and unidirectional S-glass and equally translates into a phenomenal rod for roll casting these heavier patterns as well. Matt and I are very impressed. We have both put more than a few hours working our rotator cuff while frothing delicious looking water and can honestly say after consecutive days of casting the 6/8 weight rod is more of a pleasure than a workout. The durable TiCr coating adds to the seductive blue marble finish that is reminiscent of a 70’s Camaro while the feel of the Flor-grade cork grip feels like you are behind the wheel of a muscle car. Give this rod a go this year, I can’t wait to see how well it does for Hex and midnight Mousing.
Randy was working the bend of the 8 weight IMPACT which comes in at 4.6 ounces, a few ounces heavier than the BVK, but it has a sensitive feel unlike many rods of this caliber. I took it for a few casts and could not believe how well it hit targets with pin point accuracy. The smooth feel of this slim rod design coupled with Tactical Series stripping guides and ultra-light weight chromium impregnated stainless snake guides delivers flies right on the mark. WOW! the pure adrenaline and feel of this rod is worthy of praise. It is sexy AND it produces. The rod loads with minimum effort and maximum efficiency, perfect for tossing streamers all day. But then I got thinking, ‘I really love my BVK, what about the Impact 5 weight for trout?’ It was an epiphany. Holy wah~ YES! This would be a dynamite rod in a 4 or 5 weight for delicate presentations and accurate casts often required of my beloved BVK. Expect to see a 5 weight Impact in my arsenal in the near future.
We reached the take out in record time, just as a small trout came out after Randy’s deceiver, and then a big boy came out of the wood work to seal the deal. I was on the oars testing out the new Pro-Loks when Randy muttered something under his breath, and then got a little more animated. “It’s a BIG one!” I quickly slid in the slack water and jumped for the net, perfect timing for a beautiful fish. Quick couple of shots for the camera and off to the depths from which he came. Now the debate- should we do the same float again? or head off to other water?
We saw a few BWO’s coming off, nothing worthy of switching to a dry fly game, but a couple of sporadic risers. The Hendrickson hatch will wait for warmer days ahead and promises to be a great Trout Opener next weekend. We made our way through a few newly uprooted trees and caught a couple more wth twice as many ‘hopeful’ chases out of the wood debris. Randy came through again in the end with a beast that charged halfway across the river and annihilated his streamer.
Next weekend will be packed on the rivers, we hope to see some of you out there enjoying the promise spring weather can afford. Be sure to stop and say hello if you see us on the road or at the gas station. We will most likely be near the Lovells Historical Museum Leaky Wader Run at 10 am. There will be plenty of people at Fuller’s NBOC exchanging stories and plans for the weekend on the water. We will have TRUE NORTH TROUT T-shirts on hand, also available in our store. Then headed to Anglers of The Au Sable Banquet, hope to see you there!!
The weather forecast seems to be playing Jekyll & Hyde with our emotions and biorhythms trying to find a window of opportunity to hit some favorite water. You just have to go, simply because you won’t catch anything watching re-runs of The Andy Griffith Show. April is next week, spring break for many students and a perfect opportunity to bring your kids on a trail hike along a favorite stream to check on steelhead movement, perhaps wet a line as well. We look forward to April for all the promise of a new season, spring rains wash away all the dirty snow and begin the process of awaking Mother Nature as she shows glimpses of her soft side with crocus and iris blooms in between the harshness of freezing rain tantrums.
Trout Opener is April 29 and events across northern Michigan to celebrate another season chasing secluded trout in beaver dams and skinny water are on the books. Hotel Walloon is hosting the second annual Hemingway Weekend, a great package at a premier hotel on the shores of Walloon Lake in Walloon Village which includes a two days packed with local historians, a boat tour, Wine dinner, presentations from Hemingway Society president Chris Storable. True North Trout is honored to be doing a fly tying presentation Sunday morning. Last year, I searched for flies of Hemingway era, and found very little, so I tied large nymphs like the Tellico and Pheasant Tail and a few ‘Hemingway Caddis’ simply for nostalgia and namesake. I would guess bucktail streamers and Wulff style dries may have been the order of the day. I am fairly certain these were not flies found in his creel, since their inventors came after 1910, and seriously doubt Papa was an early advocate for C&R , since most stories recollect the bounty and harvest of his younger days in The Last Good Country. If anyone has any suggestions for flies he may have used, please send me some intel.
The Fly Swap in Birch Run promises to be not only a tremendous gathering of anglers looking to pass on some gently used fly fishing equipment, but also a well attended garage sale for anglers looking to score on some unique and hard to find fly fishing gear. The event is held from 10-3pm at Birch Run Expo Center. I will make no predictions on how many will be on hand, but early reports tell me there will be plenty of local guides and fly shops looking to swap or sell some quality gear. If interested in a table, contact Jeff Johnson at 313-510-0928 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. True North Trout will be on hand will a limited run of our new T-Shirts, long sleeve in Sport Grey and short sleeve Compass Design in Blue. These can be found on our new Merchandise page and we are currently working with Mr. Williams from Green Bus Design for a Brook trout inspired design and limited run of Hex fishing shirts. First we would like to find how much interest there would be in a Rivers of the North T-shirt design. There is much at stake right now with the debate of Fish Farming not only in Grayling but also the Great Lakes. We have collaborated with Line-45 for a pretty cool design which will go to print in the coming month. Look for it.
Trout opener at Fullers North Branch Outing Club is always a festive and nostalgic event. This year promises to be exciting and special. Lovell Museum will be hosting events of the day, which will include the Leaky Wader 1K and Art Neuman Dedication. This should draw few Trout Unlimited members from across the region.
True North Trout will be offering a place to stay after those early season drake hatches or the late night mouse adventures. Check out TroutBum Lodge on the North Branch while you are in Lovells for Trout Opener, we would love to have you stay for a weekend or a full week.
Guest Post By Travis White.
There’s no way around it: Staying active is absolutely necessary for a healthy life. Most people struggle to get enough exercise due to time constraints and motivation, but people with disabilities face an extra challenge. In a world where sports seem to be designed for the non-disabled, where do people with disabilities fit in? Thankfully, as we learn more about the importance of physical activity to physical, mental, and emotional health, opportunities for all people to get involved in sports are increasing. Here are ways you can participate in athletics at every stage of life.
Besides the positive health impact, children who are involved in sports benefit from an increased sense of belonging and accomplishment. This can be especially important for youths with disabilities, who are susceptible to feeling alienated from their peers.
Primary school is the ideal time to start in sports thanks to the focus on participation, rather than competition, for young athletes. Since youth sport leagues tend to be grouped by age rather than ability, kids with disabilities can often play on teams with their non-disabled friends. While they may need adaptations like a baseball that beeps, special needs probably won’t disqualify them as long as they can participate.
As of 2013, high school athletics are required to provide reasonable accommodation to teens with disabilities who want to participate in extracurricular sports. For example, a swim team may provide tactile cues for a swimmer with vision impairment or a track program may have a student in a wheelchair racing alongside teammates.
If a student wants to play a fully adaptive sport, look for adaptive sports clubs or centers that offer recreational and competitive leagues. If there’s not an existing program, networking to start a club and fundraising for equipment can be a great opportunity for a high schooler to develop leadership skills.
Students with disabilities can participate in collegiate sports as long as accommodations don’t fundamentally alter the game or provide an unfair advantage. Since many athletes need adaptations that go beyond those limits, the NCAA is starting championship leagues for students active in adaptive sports like wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, and sled hockey.
This program offers a welcome change for students who have previously been limited to local adaptive sports clubs. While local leagues can still be a great option, many students want to tie their sport to their college experience.
For a college student who wants to get involved but doesn’t know where to start, talk to student services or disability services to learn about what’s already available or how you can start something new.
Staying active throughout adulthood is challenging for anyone, and it can be especially so for people with disabilities. While team athletics tend to be less popular with adults, there are recreational clubs for people seeking the camaraderie of team sports. While you may be more likely to find an amputee soccer team or wheelchair rugby league in a large city than a small town, adults who need low-level accommodations can find a place on integrated recreational teams or in solo sports like golf.
For adults who are looking to stay active minus the competitive bent, biking and swimming offer great low-impact ways to maintain a healthy heart and a strong body. While most people with disabilities can swim without much adaptation, there’s a chance you’ll need to purchase an adaptive bicycle before hitting the road or trail. Thankfully, there’s a wide range of adaptive bikes on the market, so nearly anyone can find one that meets their needs.
When you stay active, you’re not only maintaining your health and preventing secondary conditions. You’re also building a life with a higher level of independence, from developing community networks to building the stamina to master everyday life with a disability.
Image #1 via Wikimedia Commons
Image #2 via Wikimedia Commons
Travis White is a foodie and loves to cook healthy dishes. At LearnFit.org, he enjoys writing about how to live a healthy lifestyle while focusing on mind, body, and soul.