Jan 2014 Athlete Spotlight on…Cathryn Gray

January 2014 Spotlight Athlete of the Month- Cathryn Gray

Starting this year, BlazeSports would like to spotlight one of our athletes each month. To start out the year we have selected Cathryn Gray.

Cathryn Gray, a 7th grader in Alpaharetta, GA, took up climbing only a few months ago as part of the Blazing New Trails Climbing program, a partnership between BlazeSports and Catalyst Sports. In that time she has found a sport she not only loves, but that she excels at. Cathryn, who has cerebral palsy, took to climbing instantly and found that she enjoyed not just the energetic nature of the sport but also the fact that she needs to plan, problem solve, be a team member, overcome her fears, persevere and strive to reach her goals.

“Rock climbing is challenging but not impossible. I’m exercising my brain, as well as my arms and legs”

It is this perseverance and ‘can do’ attitude that makes Cathryn an excellent choice for our Athlete Spotlight.

From the first time Cathryn was introduced to climbing at the Stone Summit Climbing Center in Atlanta, she was encouraged to set goals for what she wanted to achieve. At first it was to make it to the top of the smaller wall, then the bigger one, then to master the overhang and with each goal Cathryn set for herself, she embarked on achieving it with a remarkable determination, and always with a smile on her face.

Since this initial introduction Cathryn now climbs regularly with the Catalyst Sports group who practice on Thursday evenings at the Stone Summit. In addition, she is taking part in the 2nd phase of the Blazing New Trails Program in January 2014. The best part of all is that Cathryn now considers herself a “Rock Climber”, which according to Cathryn’s mom “other kids think is really cool!”.

Congratulations to Cathryn on being our Spotlight Athlete. Keep Reaching for the Stars and Blazing New Trails for yourself!

Posted in News |

BlueBlaze Event – Jan 31

Join Comedian Josh Blue and Paralympian and BlazeSports’ Executive Director, Jon McCulloughBlue Blaze Day poster
A conversation about disability, sports, comedy, leadership and the meaning of life.

Presented by: Emory University Disability Studies Initiative and BlazeSports America

Read the FULL BlueBlaze Press Release

When: January 31, 2014, 12:30 pm – 2:00pm 
(Doors open at 12.  Refreshments served.  Meet and Greet following event)

Where:  Emory Unversity, Center for Ethics, Room 102

Reserve a Space:  RSVP to DSI.RSVP@GMAIL.COM

 **For ADA Accomodations Requests contact 404-727-9877 or 404-712-2049 (TDDL)

Posted in News |

Hawks Sweep 2014 Pioneer Classic

The BlazeSports Atlanta Junior Wheelchair Hawks Basketball Teams were a perfect 5-0 to earn a sweep at the 2014 Pioneer Classic.

The Junior Hawks’ Varsity Team started the day with a convincing 50-18 win over the host team Lakeshore Lakers.  Both team got off to a very slow offensive first period and the score was 10-8 Hawks at the intermission.  The second have was a different story.  The Hawks finally found the spark and a season’s high second period points (40) to win 50-22.  Treyvon Smith and Josh Joines were game high scorers and with 20 and 14 points respectively. Sam Armas added 8 points, while KJ Reese, Brent O’Grady and Brian Powell each scored 2 points.

The Hawks’ Prep team started their tournament with a 20-0 defensive win over the Lakeshore Sharks.  Eric Francis, Collin Lancaster and Cameron Elzy each scored 6 points, while Taevan Grant and Jonathan Joiner each added 2 points.

prep pre gameThe Varsity squad’s second game was against a brand new Montgomery team.  This game provided the perfect opportunity for the Hawks to play their first and second year players.  It took the younger Hawks a little time to find their offensive rhythm, but the worked hard for a 30-15 win over Montgomery Red Wings. KJ Reese led all Hawks with 16 points.  Luke Hutchinson scored 8 and Chance Boyd added 6.

The full Varsity team faced the Lakeshore Lakers team for a second time in the 4th game of the day.  The Hawks held the momentum of the second half of game 1 and got out to a great first half run.  Starting point guard, Treyvon Smith was truly “in the zone” scoring 24 first half points.  Hawks led 36-11 at the intermission.   The rest of the game provided the opportunity to play the entire team. Hawks win 49-33. Sam Armas scored 11 points while Josh Joines added 8 points. Brent O’Grady and Bryan Powell added 4 and 2 points respectively. The Hawks’ Varsity squad remains undefeated for the season.

The Hawks’ Prep team finished the day with a second game against host team the Lakeshore Sharks.  Taevon Grant led all scorers with 5 points. Cameron Elzey and Eric Francis scored 4 points each. Collin Lancaster and Jonathan Joiner added one basket each for a Hawks’ 17-4 win.  Cade Maynor and Michael Kitchens continued to play outstanding defensive. The Prep Hawks finished the day like the Varsity, still undefeated for the season.

The Atlanta Junior Wheelchair Hawks travel to Omaha, NE in February for the Midwest Regional, Nashville a week later for the Southeast Regional and then host the Southeast Championships, March 8 & 9 in Marietta, GA. For more information about the Atlanta Junior Wheelchair Hawks’ wheelchair basketball program, visit our website at www.blazesports.org or contact Jeff Jones @ jjones@blazesports.org.

Posted in Featured, News |

Sports Programs for Veterans and Active Duty Service Members


OPERATION BLAZE offers a wide range of sports and activities for veterans and active duty service members with physical disabilities.  These programs are offered free of charge and provide excellent year round health, fitness and social opportunities.  In addition participants can train for upcoming events including the National Veterans Wheelchair Games (August 12-17, 2014, Philadelphia, PA), The Dixie Games (May 9th-11th, Atlanta, GA) and The Valor Games (May 20th-22nd, Raleigh, NC)

Many thanks to all individuals donors and our funders for their generous financial support for this initiative including The Marcus Foundation and The Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency.

Military Veteran Program Calendar


2nd and 4th Tuesday each month, 11am – 1pm

874 Harmony Road, Eatonton, GA 31024

Transport available leaving Atlanta VA hospital  at 9.30am.

Year round



Thursdays, 10am – 12pm

Suburban Lanes, 2619 N. Decatur Road, GA 30033


Open Gym

Practice a variety of sports for fitness or in preparation for upcoming competitions (fitness center available for individual strength training)

Mondays and Wednesdays, 10am – 12pm

Coan Recreation Center, 1530 Woodbine Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30317

Year Round


Hand cycling

Every Thursday 10am – 12pm AND 1st and 3rd Tuesday each month

Panola Mountain State Park

Alexander Lake Recreational Area, 5089 Flat Bridge Road S.W., Stockbridge, GA 30281

Year round – weather permitting



Tuesdays and Thursdays

11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Fort Gordon, Building #21608, Bonds/25th Street

Year Round


Track and Field


March – July


If you are interested in coming along to one of the programs or would like to find out more please contact:

Sam Zapatka (404) 270-2027




Posted in Featured, News |

BlazeSports’ Hawks hit the road

BlazeSports Hawks Travel to Whitewater as #9 in the country

BlazeSports’ Atlanta Junior Wheelchair Hawks Varsity Team travel to frigid Whitewater Wisconsin to compete in the Midwest Junior Regional Tournament.  A tournament that included 6 of the top 10 Varsity teams in the country. The National Wheelchair Basketball Association posted the first 2015 rankings.  The top ten teams include the following teams.  The teams in red are in Whitewater this weekend battling to improve their mid-season rankings.10929968_10152639028418181_5499850147143928380_n

1 Houston TIRR Hotwheels
2 Courage Center Jr. Timberwolves
3 Milwaukee Heat
4 Seattle Jr. Sonics
5 Dallas Jr. Mavericks – White
6 Grand Rapid Jr. Pacers
7 Utah Rush
8 Turnstone Flyers
9 Atlanta Jr. Wheelchair Hawks
10 Nebraska Red Dawgs

The Hawks #9 ranking is their best mid-season ranking in Hawks (Blazer) history. The Hawks play Utah (#7), Milwaukee (#3) and Turnstone (IN) (#8) on Saturday. Sunday’s games will depend on Saturday results.

Day 1: Midwest Junior Regional Tournament

With early morning temperatures in the single digits, BlazeSports’ Atlanta Junior Wheelchair Hawks Varsity Team arrived on the campus of the University of Wisconsin Whitewater for a 12:00 match up against 7th ranked Utah Rush.  

The Hawks started off strong on the offensive side while playing some of the best defense of the year. They led 33-16 at the half behind 20 points from Josh Joines and 6 points from Samuel Armas and 4 points from Treyvon Smith.  The Hawks defense held Utah to 34% shooting.  The momentum continued through the second half.  Head Coach Jason Joines commented “ it was the best basketball we have ever played.” Josh Joines finished with 28 points followed by Sam Armas, KJ Reese and Brent O’Grady with 8 points, Treyvon Smith with 6 points and Jordan Kolowski with 2 points.  Hawks win 62-33.

Playing 4-5 games in a two day weekend tournament has it challenges. The Hawks came off a great first game and had to face #3 Milwaukee Heat in a back-to-back game.  Momentum is a great thing and the Hawks used it and had a great start in game 2.  The Hawks defense held to Heat to 36% shooting while the Hawks shot 46% to build a 25-16 first half lead.

The Heat changed their defense in the second half and the Hawks had trouble getting their shots. Foul trouble in the second half also took away the Hawk’s first half momentum.  Starting point guard, Brent O’Grady fouled out while the Hawks second starting guard, Treyvon Smith saw limited second half action due to 4 fouls.  The Hawks stayed close to end, but lose 44-38. Josh Joines and Treyvon Smith each scored 10 points. Jordon Kolowski added 8 points while Samuel Armas score 3, and Brent O’Grady and KJ Reese both scored 2 points. Although it was a close and  disappointing loss, on the positive side the Hawks held the #3 team in the country to only 16 first half points and a total of 44 points.10615437_10152639028058181_6655893711578710288_n

The Hawks finished a long day with a 6:00 pm game against the #8 ranked team Turnstone Flyers (IN). The afternoon break gave the Hawks time to regroup and prepare for Game 3.  The break was the perfect cure for the Hawks shooting slump in the second half of Game 2. The Hawks scored a season high 42 first half points with 8 of the 9 players on the scoreboard.  Treyvon Smith’s 14 points, Josh Joines 8 points and Brent O’Grady’s 8 points led the offensive charge.  The Hawks defense was back in fine form holding Turnstone to only 15 points. Hawks lead 42-15 at the half.

The second half allowed the Hawks to rest their starters and give some playing time to the bench. Josh Joines led all scorers with 22 points, followed by Treyvon Smith with 17 and Brent O’Grady with 14. Samuel Armas scored 8. Jordon Kolowski added 4 points while Cameron Elzey and Luke Hutchinson each added 2 points. KJ Reese rounded out the scoring with 1 point. Hawks win 71-43.

The tournament format has the Hawks playing two games on Sunday.  The Hawk’s first game will be a rematch against the Turnstone and the final game against #10 Nebraska.


Posted in Featured, News, Wheelchair Basketball |

Atlanta Junior Wheelchair Hawks Travel to Pioneer Classic

20130413_121353Twenty-two wheelchair basketball teams from across the country will be at Lakeshore the weekend of January 10-12 to compete in the 27th Annual Pioneer Classic. The 2014 Pioneer Classic will feature teams from the National Wheelchair Basketball Association’s Championship Division, Division III and the Women’s Division, including the University of Alabama’s defending national champion women’s team. Five youth teams will also participate in the weekend’s schedule, including Varsity and Prep teams from BlazeSports’ Atlanta Junior Wheelchair Hawks and the Lakeshore Foundation and a new Varsity team from Montgomery, AL.

Pioneer Classic

The Pioneer Classic has grown over the years and become one of the premier wheelchair basketball tournaments in the country. The tournament began in 1987 when Jo Fowler, along with other members of BellSouth’s all-volunteer community service organization, now known as the AT&T Pioneers, raised $6,000 to fund Lakeshore Foundation’s first wheelchair basketball invitational. Twenty-four years later, the Pioneer Classic has become a long-standing tradition among competitive wheelchair basketball players as well as an opportunity for newcomers to experience the growing sport.

“The AT&T Pioneers have been supporting the Lakeshore for the past 24 years because we believe in what they do,” said Fowler. “Lakeshore has always focused on people’s abilities, whether they be an adult or child, rather than their disabilities, and that’s what this tournament is all about. Many people say they have seen wheelchair basketball on television; I challenge them to see a game in person. If they do, I know they will have an enjoyable experience.”

“The Pioneer Classic is perhaps one of the longest running sporting events in Birmingham and has showcased the nation’s best talent in wheelchair basketball over the years – from up and coming young players to the elite level Paralympians,” said Lakeshore Foundation President Jeff Underwood. “We are always proud to serve as the host for this special tournament.”

Games begin at 9:00 AM on Friday, January 10th and continue through Sunday at 12 p.m. in Lakeshore Foundation’s fieldhouse. The awards ceremony will be held directly following the last game.

The Atlanta Junior Wheelchair Hawks schedule is:

 9:30   Varsity vs Lakeshore                                                                                                                                       

11:00   Prep vs Lakeshore                                                                                                                                            

11:45   Varsity B vs Montgomery                                                                                                                                  

01:15   Varsity vs Lakeshore                                                                                                                                        

02:45   Prep vs Lakeshore                                                                                                                                                

03:30   Varsity B vs Montgomery      

Follow @BlazeSports on Twitter and Facebook for photos and match updates #ATLWCHawks #ATLHawks                                                                              

Posted in News |

GA Blazers Swim Team in RVA Para Races

On February 1st and 2nd The Georgia Blazers attended the RVA Para-Races in Richmond Virginia.  This event is a qualifier for the upcoming U.S. Paralympics Spring Swimming Nationals (Can-Am)  on March 27th -29th 2014.

At the RVA Para-Races, the swimmers raced in the center’s 50-meter, eight-lane competition pool which was formerly the 2008 Olympic Training pool.

The Georgia Blazers who attended the Richmond meet were:

Vica Beelner

McClain Hermes

Maya Kayn

Ryan Swain

MeiMei White.


The swimmers had a busy schedule over the 2 day meet but each turned out excellent performances.  Congratulations to the 5 GA Blazers!


See the GA Blazers Results

RVA Para Races Feb2014 Results


Full Results

RVA Para Races Feb 2014 Full Results


Posted in Featured, News, Swimming |