Paralympian, pushrim athlete, and Oiselle Haute Volée, Jenna Fesemyer, continues to pave the way and inspire the next generation of wheelchair athletes. Even outside of her remarkable athletic achievements, Jenna is committed to increasing access to adaptive sports, including access to equipment, training resources, and connecting athletes.

Alongside the OHSAA, Columbus Parks and Rec, and Adaptive Sports Columbus, Jenna was part of hosting the 2nd annual Ohio Wheelchair Track & Field Clinic in Columbus, Ohio. Thank you Jenna for sharing more about the clinic and its vision for the future.

On Saturday, January 27, 2024, in collaboration with the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA), Columbus Recreation and Parks, and Adaptive Sports Columbus, we hosted the 2nd annual Ohio Wheelchair Track & Field Clinic in Columbus, Ohio. We also had several sponsors, including Oiselle, Garmin, Ritchies Sporting Goods (Tallmadge, OH), Challenged Athletes Foundation, and Canine Companions. We featured volunteer coaches from the University of Illinois and from the Ohio State Occupational and Physical Therapy programs. Twelve participants traveled from all over the state of Ohio to come and learn about wheelchair racing, seated shot put, and weight training strategies that can be utilized during the upcoming track season.

We welcomed new and seasoned athletes, ages 9 to 19. Athletes could attend regardless of whether they had wheelchair racing equipment or not, and we were able to help them learn more about the sport, try out wheelchair racing equipment, and even return home with newly loaned racing wheelchairs from Adaptive Sports Columbus.

Young adaptive athletes learn and participate in the wheelchair clinic

The idea for this clinic started in 2022. We noticed that the state of Ohio worked so hard for equity and inclusion, adding wheelchair events to the high school state track and field meet in 2013. However, we seemed to be missing the next step: Where do adaptive athletes receive information on how to compete? How can we give them access to equipment to get started? Athletes were looking for resources to get stronger. They were also looking for the camaraderie of meeting other athletes who looked like them, as many wheelchair athletes are the only ones competing for their school.

So, in collaboration with the OHSAA and Columbus Recreation and Parks, we created a one-day intensive clinic for athletes to come, learn, and take their newfound resources home with them to use and share.

What stood out to me about our clinic this year is the instant connection athletes have with other competitors. For many of our participants, this was the first time meeting another athlete who shared the same experiences as them.

They were able to share strategies on what has worked for them with training, competing at track meets, and the process of applying to college. Parents also engaged in these conversations and shared as well. Another stand-out moment for our clinic was the overwhelming response of volunteers and coaches who supported this effort. Without the investment of our volunteer coaches, this program would not be possible.

We hope to host this clinic again in 2025 as an effort to give access to adaptive sport to as many young athletes in Ohio as possible. After all, our goal in sport should always be to "learn, grow, and pass it on." Without the last part of that equation, the gift of sport would be lost on many athletes, especially athletes with disabilities. I want to thank Oiselle for seeing this mission to be as valuable as I see it. I'm excited to see how many "wings" grow from this sport opportunity!

Yound adaptive athletes learn new training methods at the wheelchair clinic hosted by Jenna Fesemyer
Young adaptive athletes pose in their wheelchairs with their gift bags from Oiselle

Photos courtesy of Columbus Parks and Recreation

Jenna is currently pursuing her PhD in Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois. You can follow her training journey on her Instagram . Interested in learning more about wheelchair racing and the Paralympics? Learn more from Jenna’s blog introducing us to the sport!