Yesterday, University of Alabama Adapted Athletics announced they had hired Charlie Rivera as their new head coach for their wheelchair tennis program.
Rivera brings a wealth of experience to the program, having coached tennis for twenty years, and over wheelchair tennis for eight years. He was a key person behind the scenes organizing the 2013 Wheelchair Tennis Collegiate National Championships. Prior to taking this position, he was working and teaching at the North River Yacht Club in Tuscaloosa. Past experiences include working as a wheelchair tennis in San Juan, Puerto Rico, working at the Bollettieri Academy with top level tennis players like Andre Agassi, and working at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida, the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort in Sarasota, Florida, and at the Ridgewood Country Club in Waco, Texas.
The University of Alabama started an adaptive athletics program over a decade ago, with Brent Hardin creating a women’s wheelchair basketball team. He was assisted by a US$5,000 grant from the Christopher Reeve Foundation. From that start, the program has gone on to add a men’s team, the wheelchair tennis team, adaptive rowing, and an adaptive golf team. It now employees at least three full time people, a part time employee, provides athletes with six full scholarships and has an annual budget of US$450,000. It has gone on to become a national model for inclusiveness in sport.