LETTER FROM FOUNDER CLAYTON FRECH
I am the father of a 10 year old amputee athlete, Ezra Frech. Ezra was born missing his left knee and left fibula, and he is missing three fingers on his left hand. Ezra has loved sports since he could crawl across the room and play with a ball. And his love for sports runs deep - he learned to count by twos before counting by ones by watching Los Angeles Lakers basketball games! In many ways, it is through sports that Ezra has found a place of strength and belonging that transcends his physical differences.
Ezra first became active in sports through his own participation in Paralympic-style sporting events. He has been competing in Paralympic-style swimming and track and field competitions since he was 7 years old. My wife, Bahar, and I have seen firsthand the power of participating, competing, and connecting with this community has had on Ezra as a young man ... and we want to help open up those types of experiences for even more people like Ezra.
It is from our own experiences participating on other adaptive sports events that we decided to create an event in Southern California, the Angel City Games! The Angel City Games is Southern California’s only multi-sport competition for youth, adults, and military athletes with physical differences or impairments. We set out to create a one-of-a-kind event for Southern California that helps build and support the local community, while also attracting competitive participants on a national scale. The event is specifically designed to support athletes with physical disabilities of all ages, skill levels, and experiences.
As the parent of an adaptive athlete, another goal with Angel City Sports is to learn from our own experiences attending similar events over the years and make attending the Angel City Games a fun and easy experience for the athletes and their friends and family. So to help with some of that anxiety, here are a few of my own experiences and what you can expect at the Angel City Games:
“What sports should I register my child for?”
When we registered for Ezra’s first track and field competition, I had no clue what events to sign him up for. I ended up signing him up for about 8 or 9 different events. I was not sure which events he was eligible to do or even which events he would like to do! As it turns out, he was eligible to do most of the events and he truly enjoys running, jumping, and throwing things out on the track!
If you are registering your child for the Angel City Games, feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com if you want any advice or assistant in picking the right Track and Field events for yourself or your child.
“Do I need to have any special equipment?”
For the Angel City Games, you do not need any special equipment to compete. Some amputee athletes like Ezra may have a running blade and others may not. Some wheelchair athletes may have a racing chair and others may not. It’s perfectly acceptable to compete in whatever leg or equipment you have. Depending on your equipment interests and needs moving forward, it would be our honor and pleasure to help connect you to the right resources to acquire the equipment for future Angel City Sports events! The most important thing is that you (or your child) come out, participate, compete, and have fun!
“What is Classification and why is it important for Track and Field athletes?”
Soon after registering for Ezra’s first Track and Field competition, the event organizers contacted me about a “Classification” appointment. Initially, I felt like this didn’t relate to us at all. You may be thinking the same thing. However, I quickly realized it did in fact relate to us, and in fact was critical to making competition even more fun for Ezra. Classification is a great example of the power of the Paralympics and is used to help compare individuals with the same or similar disabilities. It is the truest definition of fair you can find in a world that is often not very fair. Access to athletic, educational, and employment opportunities are not fair for those living with physical disabilities. But in a Paralympic competition, there is fairness. I love that! After being classified, Ezra was able to compare his results to athletes with a similar disability. The classification process also helps us create heats with athletes of similar age and classification.
Angel City Games Classification will take place all day Thursday, July 7 and Friday, July 8 at UCLA. We encourage all Angel City Games Track and Field participants to come get classified ahead of time. However, if it is not possible for you to come to UCLA Thursday or Friday for a classification appointment, we can do an email/phone interview to understand your impairment and then we will do our best to put you in a heat with athletes who have comparable disabilities. There is also a possibility that we will do classification during the competition on Saturday. You can email us with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“How will the day feel? What should I expect?”
The day we arrived at the event, we were overwhelmed with checking in to the hotel, registering for the event, and finding all of the event venue locations. During that first day Ezra attended a clinic where he learned all of the sports he was going to compete in the next day. It sounds a little crazy to learn one day and compete the next, but it worked out great. For first-timers, the competition is really about having fun and getting out on the track and/or field together to try some new sports. This will be especially true for young children. Some of the heats for the adults will get pretty serious – especially if world rankings or national team spots are at stake. However, even when Ezra has competed against world-record holders in the same heat, it didn’t feel intimidating at all. In fact, we thought it was pretty cool!
If you have never participated in a Track and Field event, you will quickly realize that there are a lot of rules! But do not fear! First, we will have certified coaches working with new athletes during the clinics to explain the rules. And each event will have officials and volunteers to help the athletes. Please just do your best to listen to the officials and volunteers who are running the event.
As a spectator, generally for Field events you can be pretty close to the competition area. However, once the Track races start the spectators are generally asked to stay in the bleachers away from the track for safety reasons. Angel City Games will be managed the same way.
“How do I stay informed and know what to do during the day?”
For many of Ezra’s past events, we have been overwhelmed with trying to figure out what heats Ezra was in and when they were happening. We also found it confusing to know when/where to find your results. In general, information can be hard to come by. We’ve taken several steps at the Angel City Games to ensure parents and athletes do not suffer from this same uncertainty and confusion:
Angel City Games Event Registration and Information Booths will be located across from the entrance to Drake Stadium on walkway called Bruin Walk. Our Registration and Information Booths will provide you with all of the information you need to navigate the event, including full schedules and event times.
We will also provide each athlete with an "Athlete Angel" chaperone, to help them through their day with whatever they may need. If the athlete doesn’t need anything, then the Angel will take pictures and cheer!
Results Boards will be located around the stadium to provide event updates. Keep an eye out for them and check back an hour after your event. Our volunteers will be working diligently to get heat results posted as quickly as possible!
“What other activities are there? What is there to do when we are not competing?”
The Angel City Games team is focused on creating a fun atmosphere throughout the day for all attendees. First and most importantly, on our Clinic and Competition days the athletes will be surrounded by peers and other athletes… a great chance to meet others and make new friends! And what better place to spend an afternoon than on the campus of UCLA!
The Thursday & Friday Clinics will feature the following amenities:
- Coaching and instruction from Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Come watch and learn from the best in the business!
- Wheelchair Basketball Clinic, including a Celebrity Wheelchair Basketball Game at 4pm!
- Food & Beverage Concessions open at Pauley Pavilion in the afternoon through early evening.
The Saturday event will also include other amenities for the time in between events:
- Vendor Village will include many of the leading adaptive sports organizations in Southern California, as well as many other organizations that support adaptive sports and this community.
- Kids Zone designed to keep friends and family entertained.
- We have invited celebrities and professional athletes to join us!
- Food & Beverage Concessions open at Pauley Pavilion and at the top of Drake Stadium in Vendor Village throughout the day.
At the end of the day, our goal is to create a “Big Tent” for all athletes with physical disabilities and their families. We hope to see you at the event. I look forward to meeting all of the parents, athletes, and supporters. Please come join us for ACG 2015 ... it will be a great event!
Please do not hesitate to contact me or our Angel City Games team if you have any questions!
Father of Ezra
Founder of Angel City Sports