My Opinion – On The Same Team

Welcoming the new SNS Editor-In-Chief

Welcoming our new Editor-In- Chief to the SNS team

Hello, I’m Al Kovach Jr., and on July 1, I became the new editor-in-chief for PVA Publications, which produces PN and SPORTS ’N SPOKES (S’NS) magazines.  

I was national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America from 2014 to 2017 and submitted 36 editorials for PN, but this is my first submission for S’NS. I hope it meets your expectations.

I never pursued a journalism degree, nor would I consider myself a great writer, but I do have a good understanding of adaptive sports considering my history in elite competition following my spinal-cord injury from a parachuting accident while serving with the Navy SEALs in 1991.  

Like most newly paralyzed veterans, introduction to adaptive sports was an integral part of my rehabilitation. My recreational therapist at the Department of Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, Kelli Kaliszewski, made sure I was at the local track two days a week, and it wasn’t long before she had me registered for my first National Veterans Wheelchair Games. I don’t have enough space here to tell you about that experience, but it was life-changing.  

Upon my return from the Games, I found myself registering for every race in San Diego County that had a wheelchair division. Not long after that, I started traveling to legendary races such as the Bloomsday Run in Spokane, Wash., the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta and the Boston Marathon.  

I enjoyed those 10Ks and marathons, but after competing at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics, I was looking for something different, so I began competing in handcycling and triathlons. Unfortunately, I was forced to retire due to reccurring injuries and now stick to recreational skiing in Durango, Colo., and perhaps a scuba diving trip wherever the water is warm and the drinks are cold.

I’ve enjoyed reading S’NS for more than 30 years and during that time, I’ve seen how adaptive sports have changed for the better. Adaptive equipment has improved, athletes are training smarter and the variety of sports has expanded immensely.  

When I began competing in 1993, the racing chairs were transitioning from steel frames with four wheels to aluminum frames with three wheels. Many of us living on the West Coast identified Fortress as the brand to beat in regard to innovation and customization.

I also remember the camaraderie among the competitors. The guys who were duking it out wheel-to-wheel on the track were also eager to share their homemade innovations with their competition. It was as if we were all on the same team, and the common foe that bonded us was status quo and the public’s misperception of people with disabilities.

Athletes have been turning to S’NS for dec-ades for its coverage of adaptive sports, equipment innovations and articles on the people associated with the ever-changing exhibition of personal perseverance. Plus, the S’NS staff has archived every issue of the magazine, documenting the history of adaptive sports long before the internet came along. So, I guess we’re kind of like the Library of Congress for adaptive sports.

Obviously, the internet has made it easier to find the results of a competition just minutes after it concludes, and there are countless platforms online that offer opportunities for athletes and pundits to pontificate on all topics relating to adaptive sports.

The S’NS staff has worked hard to adapt to the changing environment in how we consume our news and entertainment by providing you with unique content delivered in a timely manner in both print and digital formats.

As the new editor-in-chief, I’m excited to join the S’NS team and take on this challenge of advancing adaptive sports. I’m open to any ideas for articles and if you have any comments, good or bad, I want to hear from you. Please send me a message at                         


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