Sidelines to the Field: RallyCap Sports Welcomes all Abilities

When BGSU alum Paul Hooker was coaching Little League in his hometown in New Jersey, he was forever changed after asking a young girl on the sidelines how she was doing. She replied to Mr. Hooker with “this stinks”, as she watched from her wheelchair wishing so badly to also participate in sports. 

Taking those two words to heart, Mr. Hooker and his wife began Challenged Youth Sports, a softball league for children of ALL abilities. Eventually it grew to a dozen sports and two fully accessible playgrounds.

25 years and one connection

25 years later, Hooker found himself back at the BGSU campus where he met then sophomore student Luke Sims at a networking event. Sims’ minor was entrepreneurship, and, after hearing about Challenged Youth Sports, he pitched an idea to Hooker that would take the program to a whole new level for hundreds more kids. 

Sims, thinking it would tie into his schooling and could be a great opportunity to work with an alum, suggested starting up similar programs and operating them on college campuses with university students. Mr. Hooker loved the idea, and for Sims’ last two years of college, he organized and ran the first college-campus-based RallyCap Sports at BGSU in 2014.

“I really didn’t have experience with special needs individuals at the time,” said Sims, who now lives in Maumee. But he fell in love working with the community and is currently the executive director of RallyCap Sports.

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Sports for everyone

RallyCap Sports currently runs programs for people of all abilities on 19 campuses including BGSU and UToledo. Individuals ages seven and up can participate in sports such as soccer, basketball, flag football, tennis, and so much more.  Each session costs $20 which covers facility use, trophies, etc.

“We also offer scholarships that are available to anyone, anytime,” said Sims. RallyCap currently uses facilities on the prospective campuses but hopes to expand to the suburbs eventually.    

Each chapter has one to two seasons per school semester with sessions lasting 4-8 weeks and meeting one hour per week. There is normally a break in the summer due to the college students not being on campus. However, sometimes they are able to offer fishing in the summer.

“We match up 1 to 1,” said Mr. Sims. Every participant has two volunteers working with them. The individuals learn a sport, practice, and play real games, but it is non-competitive. “It’s way more about social integration and making friends,” said Sims.  

Connect with your local RallyCap Sports

RallyCap Sports is slowly decreasing the number of local youths sitting on the sidelines and saying “this stinks.” The fall season is fast approaching, so be sure to reach out soon to your local chapter if you are interested in having your child join. The best ways to connect with the nearest RallyCap Sports chapter is to fill out a form on their local website, or to email the chapter directly. Once on a mailing list, you will receive information on the sports offered that semester as well as any other pertinent information.

The UToledo chapter can be found at They can also be reached at Find the BGSU chapter at and email them at .