It was 1997 when the trailblazing began in earnest. Allison Compton had done plenty of it before, perhaps without even realizing it, as a kid in the South Bay. Born with an undeveloped right femur, Compton has never known a life without a prosthetic leg. Some may justifiably see this as an obstacle. Compton simply saw it as her normal.
She did everything kids do in Manhattan Beach, including volleyball. Didn’t matter if other kids had two legs; she’d be just fine. So fine, in fact, that she made the high school team, and her club team. So impressed was her club coach that he told her about a tryout for a national team, though in retrospect, he did leave out a few minor details.
Like the fact that it was a men’s team. And one comprised of other disabled athletes. With no women’s team established at the time, Compton agreed to try out for the men’s team, and so in 1997, Compton became the first woman to join the U.S. Paralympics Men’s Volleyball Team.
The trailblazing had begun.
In the time since, Compton has become a tour de force in the world of disabled athletes. After making the roster for the 2000 Paralympic Games with the men, Compton pushed for the establishment of a women’s team.
Six months before the Athens Games, she did just that, winning a bronze medal.
Now, partnered with p1440 as the Director of Adaptive Sports, Compton is set to trailblaze again, after World ParaVolley (WPV), the international federation for Paralympic volleyball, announced its intentions to get Beach ParaVolley (standing volleyball) into the Los Angeles Paralympics in 2028.
“We’ve jumped through so many things over the years and it’s so exciting to see where we’re at today,” Compton said. “This year, the U.S. Olympic Committee became the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. That’s the future of sport. We’re better together. And once everyone starts to recognize that, we’re going to be able to find more athletes and develop our sport.”
That’s why p1440, with Compton and new Director of Adaptive Athlete Development Jon Aharoni, is launching an adaptive training program on Wednesdays beginning this November. It will be conducted at AVP-champion Matt Olson’s WAVE facility in Del Mar, California.
“WAVE Beach is about supporting athletes who play and love the game at every level,” Olson said. “Adding Beach ParaVolley to our facility with the support of p1440 is a dream come true.”
The combination of Compton and Aharoni is a sublime one in the world of adaptive athletes. Aharoni, a longtime volleyball coach in Southern California, currently serves as the USA Beach ParaVolley and National Sitting Team assistant coach.
“Everyone has the right to work toward greatness at the highest level, but to get there, athletes need access to training, coaching and more opportunities to play,” said Kerri Walsh Jennings, the co-founder of p1440 who is currently working on a sixth Olympic appearance.
“Central to p1440’s mission is our commitment to invest back into the sport. This program was created to support the leaders in the adaptive space by helping to further develop the talent pool of Beach ParaVolley players who, now too, can dream of Paralympic gold.”
Athletes interested in participating can access additional information and registration through the p1440 website in the coming weeks. In the interim, prospective athletes may contact Aharoni at firstname.lastname@example.org.