The University of Alabama unveiled its vanguard for adapted sport.
UA Adapted Athletics players and coaches, university administrators and supporters of the program celebrated the completion of Stran-Hardin Arena, a $10 million multipurpose facility for UA’s Adapted Athletics program.
The two-story facility — named for Drs. Brent Hardin and Margaret Stran, founders of the program — includes an NCAA regulation game venue for wheelchair basketball, locker rooms, athletic training room, strength and conditioning room, team meeting rooms and study halls. Stran-Hardin Arena is along the south façade of the UA Rec Center, east of the main entrance.
Stran-Hardin Arena will open to the public during a wheelchair basketball alumni tournament Saturday, Jan. 20.
“The facility is a testament to the many people who have a commitment to students with disabilities,” said Hardin, director of UA Adapted Athletics. “It’s also a reflection of all our students who’ve been pioneers and have paved the way for other students with disabilities.
“Stran-Hardin Arena will give University of Alabama supporters a great place to watch us compete, but it also changes expectations of who we are and what we can do, and pushes us further in that direction.”
UA Adapted Athletics began in 2003 with women’s wheelchair basketball. The program has since grown to include 30 student-athletes in women’s basketball, men’s basketball, wheelchair tennis, para-rowing and adapted golf. UA is home to six national championships in men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball (2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017). Wheelchair tennis has won three national championships (2013, 2015 and 2017).
Additionally, more than 100 students participate in the program’s noncompetitive sports options.
Caitlin McDermott, a UA alumna who won a national championship with UA’s women’s wheelchair basketball team in 2015, said Stran-Hardin Arena addresses all of the needs of UA’s adapted athletes.
“We now have our own space, where we can be comfortable and focus on our training,” McDermott said. “The biggest addition is the weight room and having our own adapted equipment so we don’t have to worry about figuring out what machines we can and can’t use and trying to adapt equipment geared toward able-bodied athletes.”
In September, Mike and Kathy Mouron, UA alumni and Mountain Brook residents, launched the project’s fundraising campaign with two gifts totaling $4 million. The Mourons announced the arena would be named for Hardin and Stran, who’ve led the program since its inception and have coached multiple national championship teams at UA.
Dr. Peter Hlebowitsh, dean of the UA College of Education, said Stran-Hardin Arena is a commitment to both the education and the livelihood of UA’s adapted athletes.
“The arena, which has no peer in the nation, also speaks to the good efforts of the alumni and friends of the university, who saw this as a critical achievement for the university and who put disability concerns at the forefront of their support,” Hlebowitsh said. “It is an achievement born of a dream that two professors in the College of Education dared to pursue with unrelenting energy. The university community will find itself enriched for many years by the many good things that will be supported inside the Stan-Hardin Arena.”
This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama’s website.