Provo’s first adaptive sports coordinator

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Charlotte Romberg is Provo's first adaptive sports coordinator. (Photo courtesy of Charlotte Romberg)
Charlotte Romberg is Provo’s first adaptive sports coordinator. (Photo courtesy of Charlotte Romberg)

Charlotte Romberg can be found walking or rolling on the basketball court at the Provo Recreation Center on any Wednesday night.

She is not there because she plays in an adult basketball league, but instead she is helping people with disabilities learn how to play wheelchair basketball. Romberg is the first adaptive sports coordinator in Provo. She runs programs targeted to help people with disabilities, including wheelchair basketball, adaptive yoga, adaptive tai chi and adaptive summer camp.

“She has been proactive the whole time about making it happen,” said Alicia Christensen, Romberg’s boss.

Romberg runs wheelchair basketball every week for people with and without disabilities. Christensen said Romberg will do whatever it takes to get others involved. Romberg has had more people show up for wheelchair basketball than the number of sports wheelchairs the recreation center has. She subs people in and out of the game to make sure everyone gets a chance to play.

Romberg has helped Trey, a third-grade boy from Provo, learn how to play wheelchair basketball since the program started in November. Romberg said it is rewarding to watch Trey participate in a team activity.

“You just have to learn how to do things differently,” Romberg said. “You have to learn to adapt.”

Rhiannon Mitchell, one of Romberg’s co-workers, helps Romberg run wheelchair basketball every week.

“Char is really awesome with working with people with disabilities,” Mitchell said. “She is very respectful in asking them if they want help instead of infringing upon them or forcing them to be helped.”

Romberg originally began working with adaptive programs when she lived in Alaska about 11 years ago. She originally worked at the local school district with kids who had behavioral problems.

“I knew this is my calling. This is what I love; this is what I gain from,” Romberg said.

Romberg said her work in Alaska also opened up the door for opportunities to work with children with disabilities. Romberg moved to Utah about three years ago and was hired by the Provo school district.

Romberg was originally hired by the recreation center last year to run its adaptive summer camp. Christensen said her boss, Brian Smith, and she knew immediately that they wanted to hire Romberg.

“As soon as she walked out of here, Brian and I looked at each other, and he said, ‘That’s your lead councilor,'” Christensen said. “I am so lucky to have found her. She is very knowledgable and has a lot of experience.”

Christensen said Romberg has taken on an important position at the recreation center, and she will not let Romberg go.

“Her role is pretty significant, and I wouldn’t give that to just anyone,” Christensen said. “She is vital because she is the most knowledgable.”

Romberg, Mitchell and Christensen were in charge of The Adaptive Experience Kickoff, an event held in February to show the city of Provo all the new programs the recreation center has to offer.

“That was the first event I had thrown that it was not just on my shoulders,” Christensen said.

Christensen said that because of Romberg’s experience and connections, Romberg was able to secure a big sponsor for the event that caught the attention of a lot of people.

Romberg has a big vision for the future of adaptive programs. She said she is trying to get wheelchair tennis to happen at the recreation center this summer. She already has the help of TJ Ballard, a participant of wheelchair basketball who has also played wheelchair tennis for many years. There are also some disability centers in Park City who are interested in coming to Provo to help implement wheelchair tennis at the recreation center.

Romberg runs wheelchair basketball every week. She will instruct, and occasionally play with the participants. (Photo by Haylin Martin)
Romberg runs wheelchair basketball every week. She will instruct, and occasionally play with, the participants. (Photo by Haylin Martin)

Romberg’s dreams for the future go much beyond just adaptive programs in Provo. Romberg said she would love to open up a summer camp for children with disabilities and their siblings. She said she wants to create a place where parents can drop their children off for a week so parents can get a break they deserve.

“It would just be a dream,” Romberg said.

Romberg said siblings of children with disabilities can feel left out because they do not get therapy and as much attention as their disabled siblings do. Romberg said her dream camp would give all of the children the attention they need.

At the end of the day, Romberg said, her job is very rewarding.

“Even on the hardest days, you can see the progress you’re making,” she said.

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