Posts tagged ‘Brett Gravatt’

Brett Gravatt Discusses His Post-Injury Life

brett gravatt

Former Nittany Lion soccer player Brett Gravatt, whom we profiled in our Jan./Feb. 2016 issue, appeared on a recent episode of the podcast Let’s Talk with Jacob Wilkins.

This is a quick listen, and it hits on a number of aspects of Gravatt’s life. Among other things, Gravatt and Wilkins ’10 talk about the details behind Gravatt’s injury, adapting to life post-injury, getting involved with Penn State’s Ability Athletics program, and his current role with the Penn State soccer team.

Gravatt also discussed competing in wheelchair racing and his aspirations of making it to this September’s Paralympic Games in Rio. Gravatt is one of four Penn Staters who have qualified for the U.S. Paralympic Track and Field Trials later this month. We’ll keep an eye on them.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

June 13, 2016 at 11:35 am Leave a comment

The Positive Outlook of Brett Gravatt

FOX 29 Philly debuted a story last night on Brett Gravatt, the Penn State soccer player turned wheelchair racer who we profiled in our current issue.

The story highlights Gravatt’s life ever since the snowboarding accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down in 2014. He mentions that he sometimes gets “unwanted attention” from students around campus who see him using a wheelchair, but says that he has embraced the path that he’s gone down and that he was not going to “be miserable” due to his new situation. Gravatt included a quote by Teddy Roosevelt that he lives his life by: “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.”

The video also features interviews with Nittany Lion soccer coach Bob Warming and Teri Jordan, the head coach of Penn State’s Ability Athletics program. Both of them speak to Gravatt’s drive as a competitor and how that has helped him succeed at his new sport, as he is currently ranked 22nd in the world in wheelchair racing.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

February 11, 2016 at 4:07 pm Leave a comment

Willing and Able

File_JordanWhen Penn State launched a program for disabled and physically challenged athletes at Penn State, she felt verbiage was important. “We came up with the idea to call it Ability Athletics,” says Teri Jordan, who started the program in 1999 with then-Athletic Director Tim Curley ’76. “Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, focus on what you do have. Ability Athletics is giving an opportunity for physically challenged Penn Staters to have an opportunity to participate in sport and competition and reach it to the highest level that they can possibly take themselves.”

Today the program offers opportunities in wheelchair basketball, track and field, swimming and weight lifting. Jordan also is looking to add triathlon to the mix. And, for the first time, the sports will also be featured in events sanctioned by the Eastern College Athletic Conference.

Although the program wasn’t launched at Penn State until Jordan was well into her professional career, the seed was planted back in her undergraduate days at San Jose State. As a volunteer with Special Olympics and other similar programs on campus, she often worked with disabled athletes and others with physical challenges.

She remembers teaching a young boy in a wheelchair how to swim. To this day she gets choked up recalling the day he was able to first move around in a pool without a wheelchair: “He was so excited about being able to move for the first time,” she says. “He looked up at the trophies and said, ‘Do you think I could win those?’ I tear up just thinking about it right now. I said yes, and at that point I knew that people like myself had to make those opportunities for them, and if I did that, of course yes would be the answer for him.”

Jordan displays a similar passion toward her current athletes, around 15 at the moment—a number she is always looking to increase, as more and more athletes find out about Penn State’s programs. We caught up with the coach late last fall, as she supervised a practice for Brett Gravatt, Baren Berg, a former wrestler who was injured during a deployment, and a handful of other athletes.

Penn Stater: How busy are you with the Ability Athletics program?
Teri Jordan: We are really busy. October was tremendously busy with the program with Diversity Awareness Month. Every weekend we were busy. (Also this year) the ECAC Conference is now putting in three events for disability into the conference: swimming, track and field, and wheelchair basketball, and we have all three programs. I have only one swimmer, but maybe Brett will be my second swimmer. … We have a lot of quality athletes and we have a lot that are just participating to be the very best they can be.


December 23, 2015 at 11:09 am 1 comment

Inside Our January/February 2016 Issue

JF16Cover.jpgIt’s a busy time of year for the mailing industry, and we are contributing to all of the special packages being delivered this week with our Jan./Feb. issue.

On the cover is a rich illustration of one of Penn State’s most treasured traditions, the Dance Marathon. We asked readers to send us their THON memories and we weren’t disappointed. Starting on page 32, “My THON” is a collection of those funny, magical, meaningful, and just plain personal stories.

Also in this issue, senior editor Ryan Jones profiles Richard Trumka ’71. In his rise from coal miner to president of the AFL-CIO, Trumka is focused on the future of American labor.

Mere months after a freak injury cost him the use of his legs, former Nittany Lion soccer standout Brett Gravatt has moved from the field to the track, where he is excelling in unprecedented ways. Read about his incredible story, “In No Time Flat,” on page 26.

Plus, best-selling author David Morrell ’67, ’70 pens a remembrance of longtime professor Paul West; we celebrate a national championship with the women’s soccer team; and we’re excited to introduce our new Penn State Alumni Association CEO, Paul Clifford.

Send us your thoughts about the new issue by commenting below or emailing us at And, from all of us at The Penn Stater, best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.

Amy Downey, senior editor

December 22, 2015 at 1:39 pm 3 comments

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