From adaptive baseball to goalball, Georgia communities proudly host sporting events for athletes of all abilities.
Across Georgia, athletes with disabilities are practicing and competing in a growing number of sports from baseball to tennis, basketball to goalball, and more. From young people to adults, beginners to pros, athletes of all abilities are thriving in Georgia’s world-class sports facilities. Not only are the facilities themselves accessible, but their programs and community support also make them inviting places for athletes of all abilities to play and hone their skills. Whatever thesport, age, ability or skill level, Georgia has venues to accommodate all athletes.
Miracle Field in Valdosta
South Georgia’s premier spot for adaptive baseball is the Miracle Field Complex in Valdosta. Operated by Valdosta Lowndes Parks and Recreation Authority, this state-of-the-art, fully inclusive $5 million complex that opened in 2019 is the largest Miracle Field in the nation. Facilities include everything to ensure users with wheelchairs and those without can move freely while enjoying a competitive experience.
Miracle Fields are characterized by a two-dimensional rubberized surface with fully accessible dugouts that accommodate wheelchairs and other assistive devices. Valdosta’s dugouts also include full bathrooms, which also can act as calming rooms for people with sensory overload. The 14.1-acre complex has a fully accessible pavilion, a boundless playground, and an accessible concession stand.
The well-positioned field is situated among four standard baseball/softball fields to promote interaction among athletes of all abilities. Valdosta’s Miracle Field games are often scheduled alongside youth league games to highlight inclusivity.
Forsyth County Parks & Recreation
In north metro Atlanta, Coal Mountain Park regularly hosts baseball games for the Miracle League of Cumming/Forsyth, a nonprofit organization that provides safe and enjoyable sports team experiences for children and adults with disabilities. Other amenities at Coal Mountain Park include a universal playground, community building, paved trail, restroom, batting cages, seven traditional baseball/softball fields, a traditional playground, picnic pavilions, and a soccer/lacrosse field.
In 2023, the county’s Lanierland Park expansion will be complete and will feature a Miracle League field as well as an all-inclusive playground. Other new facilities at the park will include eight tennis courts, four pickleball courts, four baseball/softball fields, hard and soft surface trails, football/lacrosse field house and additional parking.
Randy Stephens Tennis Center in Macon
Looking for a place for wheelchair tennis events? Look no further than the Randy Stephens Tennis Center in Macon. This award-winning facility, part of the South Bibb Recreation Complex in central Georgia, has 23 full-sized lighted courts, 22 of which are wheelchair-accessible. Along with the full-sized courts, the center has eight smaller courts for pickleball or junior tennis, four pavilions, a splash pad, a wheelchair-accessible clubhouse, a fully accessible restroom building, walking trail, and playground. Player benches are available on all full-sized courts, but spectators are advised to bring their own chairs and tents.
In addition to United States Tennis Association (USTA)-sanctioned tournaments, the center hosts a veterans tennis program, Net Therapy, to support the physical, social, and mental wellness of active duty and retired military service members and their spouses.
The center was named for Southern Tennis Hall of Fame Inductee Randy Stephens, who, among other things, chaired the USTA Tennis Innovation and Wheelchair Committees and served on numerous other national committees. In 2022, the center was recognized by the USTA as one of 33 outstanding facilities across the country.
Newman Tennis Center in Augusta
The Newman Tennis Center in Augusta is a municipal facility with 18 hard courts, including 17 wheelchair-accessible courts. Located in eastern Georgia, the tennis center is the home of Augusta University tennis and local school matches.
The center hosts local and state tennis tournaments each year, including the Walton Foundation for Independence-hosted wheelchair tennis tournaments in conjunction with the USTA. The Walton Foundation also presents a weekly clinic at the center for wheelchair athletes interested in learning or playing tennis. Led by Donald Shapiro, a wheelchair tennis athlete and coach, the clinic is free and open to the public.
Big Peach Slam Jam is the granddaddy of wheelchair basketball events in Georgia. Held each year, it draws youth teams from all over the country. The tournament, the largest of its kind in the Southeast, is hosted by BlazeSports America, presented by the Atlanta Hawks and sanctioned by the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA). Sports venues around the state have hosted this event – among others – in facilities designed for wheelchair basketball and the sport’s fans.
Suwanee Sports Academy
A state-of-the-art location for wheelchair basketball is Suwanee Sports Academy in Gwinnett County, a suburban county in northeast metro Atlanta. This private athletic academy, founded in 1997, hosts dozens of sporting events each year. In 2020, it played host to the Big Peach Slam Jam.
The 100,000-square-foot facility boasts seven NBA regulation basketball courts, 15,000 square feet of training space, including weights and fitness equipment, volleyball courts, an indoor track and onsite physical therapy center.
Adams Park Recreation Center
Cobb County in northwest metro Atlanta is home to the Adams Park Recreation Center, part of Kennesaw Parks and Recreation. The 42,000-square-foot recreation center offers three basketball courts, all of which are designed to accommodate wheelchair games, a walking track, gymnastics center, fitness rooms and office space. The restrooms are wheelchair accessible. This facility hosted Big Peach Slam Jam in 2022.
Acworth Community Center
Also located in Cobb County, the Acworth Community Center hosted Big Peach Slam Jam in 2021. The 44,000-square-foot facility includes two high school regulation-size basketball courts that are wheelchair accessible. In addition, all areas of the community center, including restrooms and concession stands, are accessible. The courts are also painted for volleyball and pickleball, and the facility includes classroom, event space and a group exercise room.
Goalball is a sport designed for athletes with vision impairments. Games consist of two teams of three people each and are played on an indoor court. The goal is to roll or throw a basketball-sized ball with bells inside over the other team’s goal line. Players, who wear blackout masks, orient themselves on the court using zone lines of heavy string taped to the court that they can feel with their hands and feet.
Smyrna Community Center
The Smyrna Community Center in Cobb County is home to U.S. Association of Blind Athletes (USABA)-sponsored goalball games and tournaments for people who are blind or visually impaired, with two courts that can accommodate goalball or wheelchair basketball. The facility’s recently renovated main restrooms meet all Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. In addition, a fully accessible family restroom and ADA-compliant interior signage was added during the renovation. Smyrna played host to the Southeast Regional Goalball Tournament in May 2022, with 20 men’s teams and eight women’s teams competing.