Ashley Campbellprogram coordinator for the Sun Devil Fitness Complex on the Tempe campus, leads Devils Adapt and said it speaks directly to ASU’s mission of inclusion.
“We have had students change majors after completing our program,” she said. “But in this role, my main goal is to try to improve the well-being of all students on campus, including anyone who identifies as an adaptive person,” she said. “We train our trainers to reach out to athletes when they choose to identify with their disability as a whole person.”
Campbell and her team have ongoing strategic dialogues with the startups Accessibility Coalitionwhich works as a governing body to represent students with disabilities on all four campuses and ASU Online.
Garrett Tanner, who studies digital marketing at the WP Carey School of Business and plans to minor in disability studies, currently leads the Accessibility Coalition and is one of the group’s founders. This is his first semester as a participating athlete with Devils Adapt.
“The coalition itself is sort of an umbrella for all the other organizations and we are a unifying force,” he said. “The whole point was to break down barriers and give the disability community a place even outside of this room (the Adaptive Learning Zone).”
Emily Bailey, Adaptive and Inclusive Recreation Coordinator at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex, is one of many student trainers making that difference.
“Devils Adapt values the physical training aspect of the program, but more importantly the sense of community that comes along with it,” said Bailey, who is studying kinesiology in the College of Health Solutions and will graduate in December. “It’s really great to be a coach. You get that one-on-one personal experience with your athlete, but I think more of the community building aspect is what I really enjoy the most. We don’t just come here, train and leave. We are also kind of a family in a way. I love that.”
Many of the 2022 participants shared similar sentiments about the Devils Adapt program. In addition to scheduled workouts, the group gathers for events outside the gym, such as rock climbing, bowling, and escape rooms.
David Jaulus, a fourth-year doctoral student in justice and graduate teaching associate in the School of Social Transformation, knows a thing or two about the bonds formed between Devils Adapt athletes and coaches, as this is his third full semester participating as an athlete.
“We provide an emotional support system for each other that … you don’t necessarily understand until you’re a part of it,” he said. “I would encourage anyone, whether they are able or not, to be a part of this program.”
At the end of the semester, the group celebrates everyone’s accomplishments with a graduation ceremony and a trip, which Campbell admitted was difficult to do during the pandemic when many in-person activities, especially gyms, were closed.
“2020 was a very small class. I think we only had three athletes at the time, but we had five or six coaches,” she said. “Going through this ordeal and still being able to push through shows that we can get through anything.”
Campbell says teamwork, resilience, adaptability and giving the community a voice are key to the program’s success.
“It’s vital that we empower the communities we want to uplift. That’s how we’ll make the biggest difference.”
To join an upcoming class of adaptive athletes or training staff, fill out the interest form here. Staff positions include adaptive coaches, head coach and adaptive recreation coordinator. Internship opportunities are also available through the College of Health Solutions.
Top Image: Devils Adapt athlete Kyle Myers works out with his coach Daniel Wu at Adaptive training zone at Sun Devil Fitness Complex in Tempe during the band’s first practice for the fall 2022 semester. Photo by Christopher Goulet/ASU News