Brooke Matula is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) with a Bachelors in Recreation Administration with a concentration in Therapeutic Recreation and a minor in Psychology. During her academic career Brooke was a part of the facility operations and sports club operations at the Student Recreation Center at Texas State University. She was a member of the Women’s Club Soccer team for 3 years serving as the Vice President and captain her 3rd year.
Brooke has been involved with adaptive sports for 4 year. She was introduced to adaptive sports at the 2012 Texas Regional Games in San Antonio, Texas. After her second year she spent the summer in Birmingham, AL working at Lakeshore Foundation assisting with summer camps for people with physical disabilities. After returning she started her internship with STRAPS (South Texas Regional Adaptive and Paralympics Sports) and the Brooke Army Medical Center Wounded Warrior Transition Unit. As of October 1, 2015 Brooke continues to coach, administer and lead programs as the STRAPS Sports Director.
Wendy Gumbert brings more than 20 years of adaptive sports and program-development experience to STRAPS (South Texas Regional Adaptive and Paralympic Sports). During her career, she has successfully developed two community-based adaptive sports programs. Furthermore, as a former BlazeSports America staff member, she facilitated most of their sport competitions, clinics and camps from 1998 to 2005, and she played a key role in the development of the BlazeSports Club program model, now the Paralympic Sports Club model.
She has coached 15 different adaptive sports, taking her coaching to the elite level as a U.S. Paralympics National Team coach and administrator in both wheelchair rugby (Sydney-2000 and Athens-2004) and wheelchair track (Beijing-2008 and London-2012). Over the past eight years, she has been working with Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio to develop and enhance the adaptive sports opportunities offered to wounded service members.
Recently assigned as the U. S. Paralympics regional manager for Texas, she is working to enhance and increase the adapted sports opportunities throughout the state. STRAPS is a recent addition to her busy schedule, but she considers the administrative support, facilities and program sponsors to form an amazing foundation for a very successful adaptive sports program.
Jennifer Cooper Weatherford is the San Antonio Military Adaptive Sports Coordinator for Armed Forces Services Corporation (AFSC). She is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) with a Masters in Therapeutic Recreation and Leisure Services (MSRLS) and a Bachelors in Exercise Sports Science (ESS) with a minor in psychology. She was introduced to people with disabilities at a very young age as both of her parents are therapists. Her mom is an Occupational Therapist (OT) and her father is a Physical Therapist (PT).
Jennifer lives in San Antonio with her husband Ben, who is currently a physical therapy Doctorate student at the University of Incarnate Word. They both love helping people and helping people excel at life through participation in sports. Jennifer’s full time job is doing adapted sports and recreation with the wounded, ill and injured service members at San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC) but she loves coaching STRAPS due to the diversity of the abilities that can participate and the opportunity it gives the community athletes as well as military athletes. At STRAPS, everyone can play and Jennifer loves to PLAY!
Growing up in Austin, Texas, Jackson was a very active youth, playing varsity football and baseball. Sadly, his bright future in sports ended abruptly when, at the age of 19, he became a paraplegic due to an accidental gunshot. Adapting to this new lifestyle included learning about adaptive sports. Within a few years, Jackson was competing again this time at the highest level of wheelchair sports both nationally and internationally.
Today, Jackson is using his formal education in therapeutic recreation and his vast experience in multiple capacities. Among other things, he is the coach for the Air Force Wounded Warriors wheelchair basketball team and coach (and point guard) for the San Antonio Wheelchair Spurs. ParaSports, a non-profit Paralympic sports club, founded by Jackson and managed by him and his wife, offers wheelchair sports opportunities throughout the Austin and San Antonio areas.
Jackson is an official and functional classifier for the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA), an official for wheelchair soccer as well as an Olympics level one track and field coach. However, one of the duties that Jackson enjoys the most is his role as head coach of the power soccer and wheelchair soccer teams at Morgan’s Wonderland’s STRAPS program. “The STRAPS program is unique in Texas, and being part of it at the grassroots level is exciting,” says Jackson, who lives in the Austin area with his wife Nina and their two dogs.
Sean Arters has been playing soccer since the age of four and always aspired to play at the highest level. He became one of the top youth players in Texas and attended Winston Churchill High School in San Antonio, TX. As a senior, he was team captain and earned a selection to the Texas 5A All-State team. Sean went on to play collegiate soccer at West Virginia University (NCAA D1) and St. Edward’s University (NCAA D2) where he was a top contributor for the team earning several athletic awards and honors.
After his college playing career, Sean was 1 of 60 players from the United States and internationally to be invited to the 2013 NASL Combine. After a standout performance, Sean earned a professional contract with the San Antonio Scorpions of the NASL. He also went on to play for the Austin Capitals of the PASL and Corinthians FC SA of the NPSL.
Currently, Sean owns a company called SA Beast that focuses on complete player development for youth soccer players in San Antonio, TX.
Staff Sergeant Nakia Merritte is a retired Veteran of the U.S Army. He was with 101st Airborne Division Screaming Eagles Air Assault out of Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. He completed 3 tours in Iraq in support of Operations Iraqi freedom. He was injured in Iraq by a roadside bomb on 28 May 2007. He found his calling in 2010 when he was introduced to adapted sports. He began playing Wheelchair Basketball with the United States Army Team. After playing on the Army Teams for a few years, he decided to move up a level, so he joined the San Antonio Spurs Wheelchair basketball team and is presently playing with them. SSG Merritte enjoys giving back to his community. He started coaching kids with disabilities 3 years ago, and is currently coaching the Straps Star prep team. When possible, his entire family travels all over him in support of the team. Merritte’s 12 year old son is a member of the Strap Star Team. He also goes out to schools and talk to kids about adapted Sports in order to raise awareness and explain how it changed his life. Nakia has been to numerous camps to improve his knowledge on adapted sports. On Tuesday’s and Thursday’s, he goes to Ft. Sam Houston to help teach wounded warriors that are in recovery and how adapted sports can be therapeutic for them. He also coaches wheelchair soccer and plays wheelchair softball.
Former US Army Sergeant Kari Miller lost both her legs when a car she was in was hit by a drunk driver while she was on leave from military duty in 1999. She discovered sitting volleyball after playing other wheelchair based sports including her favorite, wheelchair basketball. Through dedicated training and coaching, she made the US Paralympic Team. She started competing for the Paralympic Games in 2007 where she won a Silver Medal for her participation at the Sitting Volleyball Invitational. In 2008, she participated at the World Organization Volleyball for Disabled where she won a Bronze Medal and the same year got another Silver Medal for her participation at 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China. In 2009, Miller was awarded as Paralympian of the Year. In 2010, she won a Silver Medal at the Parapan American Championship which was held in Colorado and the same year got a Gold Medal for another WOVD Championship. In 2011 and 2012 respectively she won three Gold Medals at ECVD Continental Cup, Parapan American Zonal Championship, and Volleyball Masters. She also got a 4th Silver Medal for her participation at 2012 Paralympic Games in London and ultimately a Gold Medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.
- Paralympic Experience
- 2016: Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (Gold)
- 2012: London Paralympic Games (Silver)
- 2008: Beijing Paralympic Games (Silver)
- World Championship Experience
- 2010: WOVD Sitting Volleyball World Championships (Silver)
- 2006: Sitting Volleyball World Championships
- Other Career Highlights
- 2016: World ParaVolley Intercontinental Cup (Gold); Exhibition tournament vs. Russia; Dutch Tournament (First)
- 2015: Parapan American Games (Gold)
- 2012: Volleyball Masters (Gold)
- 2010: WOVD World Cup (Gold); Parapan American Championship (Gold)
- 2009: Parapan American Zonal Chapionship (Gold); Eurocup (Gold)
- 2008: WOVD Intercontinental Cup (Bronze)
- 2007: Sitting Volleyball Invitational (Silver)
- Most Notable
- Member of the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team named Team USA’s 2016 “Best Paralympic Team”
- Head Coach Army Warrior Games Team “2012-13”
- Head Coach Air Force Warrior Games team “2014-15”
- Assistant Coach Invictus Team USA Sitting Volleyball “Gold Medal” 2016
- Started all 17 matches of both the London and Beijing Paralympics
- Named Best Receiver and Best Libero of the London Paralympics
- Named Best Libero of the 2011 ECVD Continental Cup
- Along with her teammates named, “Paralympians of the Year” for 2009
- Did you know
- Kari is a U.S. Army veteran and earned the rank of Sergeant
- She became an amputee in 1999 when a drunk driver collided with the car she was traveling in
- In 2013, Kari was nominated for the USAA Athletic Inspiration Award
- She has since served as a community programs coordinator for the Air Force’s Wound Ill and Injured program
- She was named a “Hero of Fortune” by Fortune Magazine, recognizing individuals who work for Fortune 500 companies
- Competed in wheelchair basketball before discovering sitting volleyball
- She competed in basketball and track in high school
- Currently started and coaches “Alamo City Sitting Volleyball” in San Antonio, Texas.