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On the fringe: pulling in marginalized athletes

Jo Ann BuysseMarginalization in athletics has been central to the work and study of Jo Ann Buysse, Ph.D., lecturer in the School of Kinesiology. She studies media portrayals of minority athletes and advocates for athletes with disabilities or other restrictions that hinder them from participating in sport.

For more than 12 years, she and her kinesiology students have been involved with Courage Center, a nationally known, Minneapolis-based rehabilitation and resource center for people with spinal cord injuries. Many Paralympic athletes from Courage Center have achieved national recognition in their sports. Its wheelchair basketball team, led by coach Mike Bauler, has won four junior wheelchair basketball championships. Students from the University sports management program have interned at the center as well as volunteered at practices and tournaments.

Currently, local student-athletes with disabilities are recruited to other colleges with special programming and intercollegiate teams. Buysse hopes the University will establish a wheelchair basketball program to keep some of the local talented athletes who currently move away to be collegiate athletes. As a step toward the goal of providing more physical activity options for people with disabilities on campus, Buysse is pushing for the addition of a basketball wheelchair activity course. Already, the Department of Recreational Sports has procured ten basketball wheelchairs that are available for use.

Another marginalized athletic population that Buysse has worked with is Muslim women in the Twin Cities. The Bryan Coyle Center has been the location of a weekly basketball program for women only. Buysse has coached in this program and is also working to find a place on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus where Muslim women can exercise more frequently and more comfortably.

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