Check out Kingwood Country Club’s tennis courts on any given Friday night, and you will find an inspiration.
One man has taken on the challenge of encouraging disabled people to become athletes.
Brady Mazzola, born and raised in Orange, Texas, showed at a young age an interest in sports and he eventually played tennis during college at Lamar University. In 2003, he decided to move to Los Angeles. After attending a paralympic wheelchair exhibition at UCLA, his view of paralympic sports was changed forever.
“Witnessing the courage, heart and spirit of these challenged athletes expanded my vision,” Mazzola said. “I’d never seen wheelchair tennis before.”
This exhibition inspired Mazzola to found the Watering Seeds Organization (WSO), a nonprofit effort that trains and rehabilitates challenged athletes, such as disabled veterans.
“I inspire my students to live healthier, more active and productive lifestyles,” Mazzola said. “Our slogan is ‘Get off the sidelines and into the game.’ I believe that with the right attitude and spirit, anything is possible.”
Mazzola moved to Kingwood in 2011. In August 2016, he started a free clinic that happens every Friday night at the Kingwood Country Club. It is open to the public and gives disabled athletes a chance to swing a racket on the tennis court.
“At our Friday night clinic, we have an average of six to 12 athletes, of which some are veterans,” Mazzola said.
David Enderli, Jr. of Kingwood has been a student of Mazzola’s for about two-and-a-half months. In the short time he has been there, he is finding a mentor and has developed an in-depth relationship with Mazzola.
“I love his positive attitude,” Enderli said. “It’s uplifting and energetic. I draw from that. I absorb it from him and it makes me want to work harder. I’ve had a lot of coaches and there’s little positive feedback. Brady comes from a different angle. It makes me want to be a better athlete.”
Enderli tries to attend as many clinics as he can. He is getting to know the other students and feels as though he is a part of their little family.
“From day one, I’ve felt like we’ve been able to come together,” Enderli said. “It was easy as an outsider to come in and be a part of the group.”
The WSO has won multiple awards, including the 2016 Spectrum Award, which is based on independent research by Christian Broadcasting Network.
No matter how many awards they earn or how many competitions they win, Mazzola will always be inspiring students.
“Just because you have a disability, it doesn’t mean your life is over,” Mazzola said. “There is hope and there are programs that are designed to give new meaning to your life after disabilities. Our programs provide hope with adaptive sports equipment. Your life is not broken; it can be rebuilt.”