top of page

Able Athletics - Bringing Inclusive Sports to Area Youth

by Warren Rosenberg, MetroSports Magazine March 19, 2024


“Champions are made from something they have deep inside them -- a desire, a dream, a vision.” Muhammad Ali, boxer

“There is always going to be a reason why you can’t do something; your job is to constantly look for the reasons why you can.” —Shannon Miller, gymnast


March has been a busy month for Scarsdale based Able Athletics, part of a banner year for this four-year old non-profit organization. And, with March being designated as National Developmental Disabilities Month, this makes eminent sense.

Able Athletics exists to provide “an inclusive and empowering space where athletes of diverse abilities can come together to discover the joy athletic participation and unlock their full potential,” as noted by Melissa Ponzio, Director of Able Athletics Field Hockey. She went on to explain that, “catering to a diverse range of abilities, our athletes at Able Athletics face various challenges such as intellectual disabilities, rare diseases, and learning differences. From cognitive processing to physical impairments, our goal is to provide tailored support and accommodations, ensuring every participant can thrive in sports and reach their full potential.” 

Above: Able Athletics launch of its Wheelchair Lacrosse program on March 17th.

Able Athletics was founded in 2020 as Able Lacrosse and, according to their website, “was the vision of two brothers, Rowan and Christian Dias, and inspired by their younger sister Elle to provide lacrosse access for individuals with rare disorders and developmental differences. It began as a heartfelt initiative by disability siblings to share their love of the sport with Elle and similarly-abled peers.” As the Able Athletics movement has grown, they have expanded from the original lacrosse and field hockey to begin supporting a variety of sports for wheelchair dependent participants.

Above: The Dias brothers, back row on left, and sister Elle, front and center, at the national All Starz Showcase by USA Field Hockey. Photo courtesy - Able Athletics

On Saturday, March 2nd, thirteen Able Athletics athletes, ages 5-17, participated in the U.S.A. Field Hockey All Starz Showcase in Manheim, Pennsylvania, the second year that Able Athletics has participated. The All Starz event was part of the U.S.A. Field Hockey’s annual National Indoor Tournament and, according the USA Field Hockey, “is the place for all access field hockey!  We serve differently abled field hockey athletes and strive to provide resources and common links enabling more playing opportunities for everyone.”

Reflecting on the All Starz Field Hockey Showcase, one of the Able Athletics Field Hockey athletes, Kaitlyn Lake, said, “This weekend was the best time I’ve had in a long time. Playing with these other kids made this experience unforgettable.” 

Above: Able Athletics athletes and volunteer staff competing at the USA Field Hockey All Starz Showcase. Photos courtesy - Able Athletics

The mother of another Able Athletics Field Hockey athlete and who also serves as Able Athletics Director of Fundraising and Community Engagement, Kira Markowitz, commented that, “To see your child find his place for the first time is indescribable. He was a part of something much bigger and meaningful than words can ever do justice for. Our team created magic and seeing the sheer joy on their faces was unforgettable. We cannot wait for next year!”


Perhaps best summing up the event was the Dias children’s mother and co-founder of Able Athletics, Vanessa Dias, stating that, "It was an incredible opportunity for our athletes at Able Athletics to be part of USA Field Hockey's groundbreaking efforts to introduce adaptive field hockey to the community through the All-Starz division, designed for athletes of all abilities. Witnessing the butterfly effect of our organization's impact in our own community has been profoundly meaningful. Our team at Able Athletics is filled with pride to see our athletes thriving and to contribute to such an inclusive and empowering initiative." 

Earlier this year, in January, The National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) announced that Able Athletics Field Hockey had been selected as the second-ever recipient of the NFHCA DEI Spotlight Recognition Award. This prestigious accolade, established by the NFHCA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, aims to honor a remarkable individual, group, or organization within the USA field hockey community that has made significant contributions to the DEI space.

On Saturday, March 17th, Able Athletics had a public celebration of its new Wheelchair Division which, on this day, focused on Wheelchair Lacrosse. On hand to help celebrate were student athletes from the Pace University Women’s Lacrosse team, the Fordham University Women’s Basketball team, high school varsity athletes from Scarsdale and Yorktown high schools, professional lacrosse athletes Roy Colsey, Brett Makar, and Deemer Class, members of the Able Athletics board, staff, volunteers and coaches, Shawn Maloney - Managing Director of USA Lacrosse’s Adaptive Lacrosse Division, wheelchair athletes and their families, and local community members.

Above and Below: Game action from the opening day of the Able Athletics Wheelchair Lacrosse Division (above) and the enthusiastic crowd on hand to cheer them on (below)

In addition to opening comments provided by some of those above, the event consisted of a spirited completion of wheelchair lacrosse in which high school and professional athletes took their place on specially made wheelchairs and, alongside wheelchair-assisted Able Athletics youth competed in a game of lacrosse. It was apparent that the Able Athletics wheelchair youth were quite adept with their lacrosse skills.

Posting on the Able Athletics website the event was summed up as, "Today wasn't just about launching a division; it was a celebration of inclusion, teamwork, and the love of lacrosse. Each smile, high five, and goal scored today underscored the importance of creating a space where everyone has the opportunity to play, grow, and excel."

Over the past year, Able Athletics has also been offering an inclusive Volleyball and Basketball program for differently abled youth at the Rippowam Cisqua school in Bedford. Last October the Able Athletics Inclusive Basketball players participated in an on-court game with the Fordham University Men’s Basketball Team at Fordham’s Rose Hill campus.

If you’re interested in contributing to help support Able Athletics, please visit the donation page on the Able Athletics website at:


MetroSports Magazine is proud to celebrate the accomplishments of athletes facing diverse challenges and to promote those organizations, like Able Athletics, that support them. Some previous MetroSports articles can be seen at:









Recent Posts
Follow Us
  • Facebook Classic
  • Twitter Classic
  • Google Classic
bottom of page