SoCal Adaptive Sports is an organization that looks to make tennis an accessible sport for people of all backgrounds and abilities throughout Southern California. The organization was founded in June of 2020, and collaborates with other public, private, and non-profit organizations and individuals to fill the need for consistent access to sports opportunities for people with physical and intellectual disabilities in Riverside County and other Southern California communities.
SoCal Adaptive Sports primarily operates out of Palm Desert Community Center and offers a number of adaptive sports, including basketball, boccia, pickleball, and tennis. The organization adheres to four core values – Resilience, Inclusiveness, Service and Excellence – and views sports as a pathway for athletes of all abilities to be able to lead full and athletically fulfilling lives.
James Lindsay is an adaptive tennis player with Autism and Asperger’s syndrome that was exposed to tennis through SoCal Adaptive Sports. James heard about the program through word-of-mouth, initially trying out tennis at an event that SoCal Adaptive Sports and Executive Director Michael Rosenkrantz was collaborating with Desert Recreation District Adaptive at Palm Desert Civic Center Park. “My friends mentioned to me about this tennis thing happening at the Palm Desert tennis courts. I figured I could give it a try in my spare time,” James explained.
James himself can’t quite place exactly what it is about tennis that drew him to the sport, but his appreciation of the sport was instant. “I guess I just like hitting the ball over net,” he said, adding that he also values tennis as a way for him to add to his social circle. Like a lot of others in the community, James may have first been captivated by hitting the ball, but it was the community itself that gave him a reason to stay. “I mainly came back to see some people that I made friends with right here,” he said.
James credits the organization’s Executive Director Michael Rosenkrantz with helping him steadily improve on the court. Despite only having started playing tennis a few months ago, James is critical of his own performance and is focused on getting better: “I do have to improve on some of my movements of how I hit a ball, like bending the knees. That’s one of my problems I need to work on.”
With the program supporting him, James is eager to improve his form and enjoy his time with the community, all while getting more fit and enjoying hitting the ball over the net. While a career in tennis is not in James’ mind for the future, he is more than satisfied enjoying tennis the way it was always meant to be enjoyed: “I’m just really doing it for fun and exercise!”
SoCal Adaptive Sports is a young program, but has a solid foundation with experienced members such as Rosenkrantz, who has over 35 years of experience in the non-profit sector. Along with a wealth of experience in its operators, the program has a number of consistent programs and a growing number of participants such as James who stand to benefit from greater access to adaptive sports.