At 19, Noah would say he is just like any other teenager. But after a car accident that caused his spinal cord injury, he and his family were uncertain whether that would actually be true. However, through adaptive sports, the Disabled Sports USA E-Team Member is now going to college on an athletic scholarship.
A member of an active family, Noah and his dad, Jason, were worried he wouldn’t be able to continue to participate in all of the activities they did together like rafting and adventuring in the woods near their Durango, Colorado home. “A while after my incident me and my dad started creating contraptions that helped me go rafting and adventuring, and with a basketball hoop at my house I started experimenting. It wasn’t until I got involved with the Adaptive Sports Association (a chapter of Disabled Sports USA), that I really understood the opportunities that were out there for me,” says Noah.
As a member of the Blue Elk Tribe, adaptive sports opportunities weren’t always easy to come by. “When we started, we realized the opportunities for the disabled on reservation lands were slim,” says Noah. This is why Disabled Sports USA helped sponsor Noah to put on wheelchair basketball clinics on his reservation and others across the region. He still organizes them through his Tribal Adaptive program.
“It wasn’t only sports, but everyday equipment and access to quality medical attention were terrible. That’s when the idea to create a program on the reservation popped into our minds. I am most exited that I am hopefully going to impact and change the lives of my participants,” Noah said.
They chose basketball because of its popularity on reservation lands. “On the reservation, basketball is king,” says Noah.
He hopes to teach other young athletes with disabilities that they can still participate in the sport alongside their peers. Noah hopes that through these camps he can be an inspiration.
“Sports helped me learn that it was up to me to become a better athlete. It is also up to me to have a better life, find better care and get the best for myself and those around me,” says Noah. It is this sense of self-empowerment he hopes to instill in these new athletes, in the same way that his mentors inspired him.
“About six months after my accident I met Alana Nichols and she let me wear her medals. I realized that they didn’t just give those medals to her out of pity, she had to work hard and train to earn them. She was my first Inspiration.”
Much like his mentor, Noah became a dual sport athlete. Through the Adaptive Sports Association, Noah turned into an accomplished skier. He was recognized as a member of Disabled Sports USA’s 2014/2015 Alpine E-Team, a team of youth athletes training at the highest level with the goal of one day making the Paralympic team. This past year, Noah decided to continue skiing just for fun and concentrate his competitive efforts on wheelchair basketball. In April, his team, the Denver Jr. Rolling Nuggets, took first place at the 2017 National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament (Junior NIT Division) in Louisville. Noah was also named MVP for one of the tournament games.
Noah is attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received an athletic scholarship. He plans to play wheelchair basketball at the collegiate level and further develop his skill level. The school’s team finished fourth this past year at the NIWBT nationals. That team graduated a lot of seniors and although Noah expects this upcoming season to be a rebuilding year, he also hopes he can make an immediate impact.
“My ultimate goals are to become a world class athlete and to give back to the communities that had helped me on my journey. What I enjoy most about mentoring other adaptive athletes is the ability to impact and change their lives. When I’m out skiing or playing basketball I look at my adaptive athletes and see their smile and that makes me happy.”