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November 2019 Newsletter (Issue 6)

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Cathy McKay, James Madison University
Northern Virginia (NOVA) Power Soccer Patriots
Robert Shaw, University of British Columbia
Reader's Corner & Tips for Young Researchers
President's Message:
Stamatis Agiovlasitis, Ph.D.

 Dear NAFAPA Affiliates,

I am sure you will enjoy this issue of our Newsletter which has been developed with diligence and enthusiasm by its
editors, Krystn Orr and Steven Holland.

Below are updates from the work of the NAFAPA Board:

  • Dr. Emily Bremer and Ms. Chloe Simpson, two Student Representatives on the Board, have initiated the NAFAPA Student Ambassador Program. At present, there are ten Student Ambassadors who will be representing NAFAPA at their institutions.

  • We have been working on modifying the NAFAPA mission and vision statements. We received feedback from previous presidents, and we will soon invite all of you to offer feedback.

  • The Board is discussing the possibility of adding a Treasurer position to the Board. As we consider this proposal, we will invite your feedback, and the final decision will be made at the 2020 Symposium.

  • Dr. Maureen Connolly is continuing preparations of our 2020 Biennial Symposium to be held at Brock University.

  • The Dale A. Ulrich Leadership Award and the Allen W. Burton New Investigator Award will be presented for the first time during our 2020 Biennial Symposium. Information on the awards will be posted on our website shortly.

  • We will soon send out a call for proposals for the hosting site of our 2022 Symposium. If you are interested in hosting this event, please contact me at:


Please feel free to contact the Board with your thoughts, ideas, and criticism.

Research Highlight
Researcher Highlight:
Cathy McKay, James Madison University

Cathy McKay is in her fifth year as an Assistant Professor of Kinesiology
at James Madison University (JMU). Cathy earned her undergraduate
degree from JMU with a focus in Physical and Health Education Teacher
Education; continued on to earn her Master’s degree in Education at
Virginia Tech with a focus in Health Education and Health Promotion;
and after over a decade of teaching early childhood, elementary, and
middle school aged children, she completed her doctoral degree at the
University of Virginia in Adapted Physical Education.


Cathy’s research area focuses on the attitude of the peer group toward
students with disabilities, and utilizing Alport’s contact theory to bring
education and awareness activities to life. She has explored these
concepts at the K-12 and college/university levels, and continues to plan
and execute education and awareness programs to explore the
variables that impact attitudes and perceptions toward disability and
inclusion. Recently, she has explored the impact of a disability sport
focused documentary film utilized alone, or in conjunction with hands on
disability sport programming. Cathy remains curious about socio-cultural
norms, attitudes, and perceptions, and the manner in which ableism
weaves into the conversation of education and awareness programming.

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Cathy has published key research related to the International Paralympic Committee’s published Paralympic School Day (PSD) program exploring the program through the theoretical lens of contact theory in both a quantitative (Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly & International Journal of Inclusive Education) and qualitative (European Physical Education Review) manner, and with a variety of different participants (International Journal of Kinesiology in Higher Education). She published a manuscript indicating the fidelity of implantation of PSD to contact theory (Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly) and has an in-press publication indicating the validity and reliability of a new scale to measure attitudes toward inclusive campus recreation (a collegiate version of Block’s CAIPE-R). Cathy has also published a webinar and podcast related to planning and executing the Paralympic School Day curriculum, and

has presented at a number of international, national, and state conferences about the topic. She is currently working on a number of innovative projects, including exploring the lived experiences of Paralympians in physical education and adapted physical education settings, exploring whether Paralympic sport type impacts experiences in an educational and awareness program, and exploring the fidelity of implementation of the collegiate version of the PSD program to contact theory. 


Cathy was recently named the College/University Health Educator of the Year by VAHPERD. While she is primarily an APE/APA researcher, her current course load consists of mainly health education teacher education courses, which she enjoys weaving components of diversity, tolerance, and disability awareness into through critical content and engagement experiences. Cathy has been a member of SHAPE America for over twenty years, and has been actively involved with NCPEID and NAFAPA for five years. She recently has explored EUCAPA and ISAPA presenting, and is excited about the great international opportunities and collaborative experiences that are coming to fruition with colleagues from around the globe.

Cathy coordinates the Paralympic Skill Lab at JMU, is a member of the

Faculty Senate as well as the Fraternity and Sorority Life Advisory Committee,

and provides service to fellow faculty as a teaching analysis poll (TAP)

consultant for the JMU Center for culty Innovation.

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Community Spotlight
Community Spotlight:
Northern Virginia (NOVA) Power Soccer Patriots
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The Northern Virginia Power Soccer Patriots organization is based out of Fairfax County, Virginia. The organization’s mission is to provide persons with disabilities using a power wheelchair the opportunity to participate independently in a team sport, develop sport, cooperation and communication skills, and enhance relationships with teammates, parents and community members. The Patriots organization has been in existence since the fall of 2008 and has provided sport opportunities for more than 50 athletes (roughly 9-15 athletes per season). The Patriots are one of three power soccer organizations in the Virginia Power Soccer Association and are members of the United States Power Soccer Association.

At the present time, the program is a recreational program provided free-of-charge through the Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services with the goals of skill development, team building, and fun. Athletes must be age five or older and use a power wheelchair for mobility full or part-time to participate. The organization is run by volunteers who serve as coaches, pit crew members, and team manager. The volunteers are able to adapt, modify, and create guards to fit all power chairs so that anyone is able to play.

While standard plastic guards are available, the volunteer coaches and pit crew members have also used milk crates, soft plastic, and other materials to ensure all are able to participate. Veteran and returning athletes serve as mentors to teach and model skills as well as befriend and welcome new members. The program also relies on community relationships for volunteers, donations, and opportunities for athletes to advocate for their needs and share their passion for power soccer.

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Power soccer was the first competitive team sport designed specifically for individuals using a power wheelchair. The sport is played four-on-four on an indoor basketball court. Athletes dribble, spin-kick, and pass a 13” soccer ball during skillful and challenging gameplay.

Student Highlight
Student Highlight:
Robert Shaw, University of British Columbia, Okanagan

Robert is a third-year doctoral candidate in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBC-O) with Dr. Kathleen Martin Ginis. Prior to his doctoral degree, Robert completed a bachelor’s degree at Nipissing University and began a master’s program in kinesiology at McMaster University before accelerating into his current doctoral program. His dissertation research will focus on ‘deconstructing’ the peer mentorship experience for people with spinal cord injury in order to better understand how specific elements of peer mentorship contribute to its effectiveness. His research is conducted using a community-based framework that aims to maximize community involvement throughout the entire research process and helps to facilitate the transfer of knowledge both from the community into his research program, and from his program back to the community.

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During his master’s degree, Robert received several awards for his academic and research excellence including the Toronto Rehab Research Training Award for Students with Disabilities and McMaster University’s prestigious Harry Lyman Hooker Fellowship. His efforts as both a scholar and community leader were recognized by his alma mater, Nipissing University, who awarded him with the Rising Star Alumni Award, given to an alumnus who has demonstrated significant achievements on a professional, community, and volunteer basis. 


Robert has continued producing high quality research during his doctoral program while maintaining his commitment to his volunteer work as a peer mentor. He has published four articles in high impact journals such as BMC Public Health and Occupational and Environmental Medicine and co-authored an additional four articles. He is currently a lead or co-author on an additional five articles that are forthcoming. These research outputs have earned him multiple University Graduate Fellowship awards from UBC-O, awards from community organizations including a Gragopean Scholarship from SCI BC, and awards from private research institutions including the Institute for Work & Health. His most recent academic achievement was winning a prestigious Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council which will fund his research for the next two years. 


Outside of academia and being a volunteer peer mentor, Robert has acted as a disability advisor to academic institutions for classroom, campus, and curriculum accessibility. He is also a consultant for SCI Canada. Robert is a major advocate of sports for people with physical disabilities. He volunteers as an athlete representative at introductory community tennis events and has been competing internationally in wheelchair tennis as a member of Team Canada for the past five years. His professional tennis career has seen him win four consecutive Canadian National Singles and Doubles titles to go along with 32 ITF Tour Titles. He achieved a career high ranking of world #8 in 2019 and won Gold at the Parapan- American Games in Lima. Additionally, Robert is an appointed Athlete Representative for Wheelchair Tennis Canada, where he provides recommendations to ensure the sport of wheelchair tennis evolves in a fair and equitable manner for all participating athletes. 


If you would like to reach out to Robert, you can email him or follow him on Instagram,

Reader's Corner
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Tip for Young Scholars: 
Donna Goodwin
Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, & Recreation | University of Alberta

The field of adapted physical activity is diverse, spanning multiple research paradigms, methods, multiple contexts, and varied theoretical perspectives. I encourage graduate students and new scholars to not only bring rigor to their research endeavors but to delve deeply in what it means to be a responsible researcher. The following ‘tips’ are presented for your consideration as adapted physical activity enters an exciting reflexive phase of inquiry. Several readings are provided for
your consideration. I invite you to expand this list for our mutual benefit.

      a. Be a reflexive researcher (1, 2). Bring a critical and self-awareness stance to the situated nature of your research              and the intersubjective dynamics between the researcher and the researched (3).

      b. Articulate your positionality (the politics of position) (4) and its impact on the questions you ask and the 

          conclusions you draw. Be cognizant of the symbolic violence that can reproduce damaging cultural narratives of                the normate (5).

      c. Convey the paradigm you are researching under and why it is important. Understand your ontological,           

          epistemological, methodological, and axiological positions. This will assist you bring cohesion to your research (6).

      d. Understand the distinction between research ethics and researching ethically, specifically as it applies to 

          (embodied) knowledge, power, and voice (7). Do both.

      e. Embed your research questions in issues of relevance to the disability community (8, 9). Cultural relevance,           

          participant co-researchers, participatory, and emancipatory research strategies are potential corner stones to 

          cultural sensitivity.

       f. Understand how the project of ableism may be present in your research and teaching (11, 12, 13, 14). The academy

          is fraught with ableism (10).

       g. Read broadly, including the work of disabled scholars and those in allied disciplines (e.g., disability studies) (15, 16,

           17, 18, 19, 20).

       h. Keep your expertism in check. Travel alongside those experiencing disability. Avoid Othering by being humble in

           your research endeavors and the sharing of your knowledge in teaching and mentoring contexts (21). 

        i. Lean into issues of social justice and disability to explore the concept of fair and just opportunities, wealth,

           resources, health, and wellbeing for the individual within the privileged norms of society (22).

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