Expanding its roster of highly successful programs, University of Alabama Adapted Athletics is adding a para track and field team, which will begin competing in fall 2023.
Recent alumnus Evan Williams has been tapped to be the new team’s coach. The dual-sport athlete was a member of the men’s wheelchair basketball team and graduated this May with a double major in finance and economics.
Now he’s shifted his focus to recruiting and scheduling the University’s first-ever para track and field team.
“We have three athletes committed for next year and I’m going to attend the Junior National Championship to recruit,” Williams said. “We’re also trying to figure out when to begin — looking at other schools to see when to have nationals.”
Williams was approached last spring by Adapted Athletics Director Brent Hardin to lead the inaugural team.
“Evan has been a student-athlete here and has demonstrated his ongoing leadership skills during his career at Alabama. Evan also has extensive experience in wheelchair track as an athlete,” said Hardin.
“He is professional and detail-oriented, but he also understands what it means to be a student-athlete and is very approachable. We feel fortunate that Evan is continuing his journey with us as a coach.”
Williams would’ve been a track athlete had he not decided to come to the Capstone.
“I was choosing between the University of Arizona and Alabama,” he said. “I had done track for seven years and basketball for six. Had I gone to Arizona, I would’ve been doing track in college instead.”
Williams and the Adapted Athletics department understand that facilities matter when it comes to recruiting. They want to build upon what UA already offers and add more accommodations suited to adapted track and field athletes.
“We’ve started the funding process to build an indoor practice facility with locker rooms on the other side of Stran-Hardin Arena,” he said.
Williams hopes to lead UA’s para track and field program by working with other schools with existing programs and encouraging other schools to follow suit.
“I’ve stayed connected with the people I know at Arizona, which is one of the top dogs, the other being the University of Illinois,” he said. “San Diego State is also pretty developed.
“There are three to four main schools, but we’re hoping to spark more interest — especially at schools where track is already there.”
Jennifer Brady, UA Strategic Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org