Aaron Holliday didn’t let a physical impediment stop him from competing on the Homewood-Flossmoor High School track & field team.
Aaron Holliday, 18, enjoys sports.
But when most kids can get up and run, Aaron is slower because of spina bifida, a birth defect that affects the spine and can cause a variety of disabilities. He uses crutches to walk and a wheelchair for team sports. He’s been a member of the Hornets adaptive basketball team through the Lincoln-Way Special Recreation District and for four years he’s done sled hockey.
But he wanted to be part of a Homewood-Flossmoor High School sports team, so he joined track during 2015-16, his junior year.
“I thought that it would be a nice, new experience to try and play a sport for my high school,” he explained.
Aaron, his parents, Reggie and Erika Holliday of Homewood, and a representative of Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association (GLASA), met with head track coach Nate Beebe and Athletic Director Dan Vosnos to make arrangements for Aaron’s participation. GLASA provided the adaptive wheelchair.
As a junior, Aaron was one of only three adaptive track members on an Illinois high school team that year.
“I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but the guys were very supportive,” he said. “It was a learning curve for all of us.”
During the 2016-17 school year, Aaron’s senior year, he was one of nine disabled students on track teams at the IHSA state meet in May. He competed in the 100-, 200-, and 400-meter dashes. Assistant coach Clifton Culpepper helped him with his workouts.
The H-F team took the championship in May 2017 in the combined able-bodied and disabled students track and field meet. It was the first time IHSA had presented the award.
Today Aaron is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater majoring in graphic design. Wheelchair track isn’t part of the sports program, but Aaron said, “I am still currently playing sled hockey with my Chicago team whenever I can.”