Mind and Body

Jackie and Brian Egelhoff know their tennis. Jackie is a USPTA professional and high school tennis coach. Brian is also a USPTA pro - and a survivor of a traumatic brain injury which resulted in a serious brain surgery that forced him to re-learn to play tennis with his opposite hand. As a result, they don’t just know tennis; they know the challenges faced by those with disabilities who also love the game.

“We are lucky to be able to teach the game we love so much to both the able-bodied and people with disabilities,” Jackie says. “It’s a very social game that can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities. ‘Up/down tennis,’ (one player in a chair and one standing) is a wonderful way to socialize, get great exercise, play together, and have fun.”

As with any sport, however, finding a suitable place to play – and equipment to play with – can be a challenge for those with disabilities.

“It is so important for the disabled to get exercise. But there are very limited suitable facilities they can go to and activities they can do to keep fit. Transportation is also a barrier – van service, etc., is very limited. And certainly the cost of joining an accessible facility can be prohibitive. For players who want to compete face other challenges, and often need sponsors – not easy to find – to help with travel and other expenses.”

Of course, it’s not just about tennis – and not only about physical fitness. For people with disabled – and the able-bodied just as much – sports and athletics can be an important part of an overall mind-and-body approach to wellness.

“Sports supply both the body and mind with good health. They provide an avenue to complete, experience improvement and success, and just feel like everyone else,” Jackie says. “It would be awesome to have a place like The Ability Center for all to be together; to get and stay fit; to learn and compete at sports; and to compete with others – where everyone understands and supports each other and the various challenges that life brings to all of us.”