Five-year-old Peter Hughes never thought playing sports was a possibility but now he is a former wheelchair athlete who travels the world and runs the largest adaptive athletics program in the country.

I was helping some young guys go to colleges, and I was complaining about it to my wife that I never had the shot,” Hughes said. “She then said well why dont we do it, let’s go to Arizona.

Long before Arizona, Hughes was a football coach in San Diego.

After coaching for some time, Hughes decided to get his masters in Australia.

This is where he was truly introduced to adaptive sports and when everything began to change.

I fell in love with it and it pulled me away from football,” Hughes said. “I was like football is going to be fine without me but here in adaptive sports and wheelchair sports, I can make a real impact.

In 2004, Hughes was recruited to play wheelchair basketball for the University of Arizona.

He was a unique individual because he was actually older than me,” Hughes’s former coach, Derek Brown said.

After a few years of playing, Hughes went on to coach the Univerity of Arizona Para Track team for three years and then the women’s wheelchair basketball team for 10 years.

But, for the past six years, Hughes has run the entire program as athletic director.

Petes vision coming into the directors position was to make sports as accessible as possible to disabled students,” Executive Director of the Disability Resource Center, Amanda Kraus said.

Hughes wanted to continue his work with adaptive athletes further.

He went on to start the Wheelchair Athletes Worldwide organization.

We got to developing countries, weve been to five and we take these old sports chairs from our friends that they are no longer using here in the US,” Hughes said. “Then I fix them up and I bring them to different countries and I put on coaching clinics.

Hughes hopes through his foundation and his role with UArizona, he can show the world what adaptive sports can do.

You dont play football without a football helmet or a football, you just dont play wheelchair basketball without a wheelchair,” Hughes said.

From coach to athlete to back to coach, to now an athletic director, Hughes does not plan on stopping anytime soon.



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