Los Angeles, California (The Hollywood Times) 4/21/2021 – Angel City Sports – the organization behind the Angel City Games presented by The Hartford, which is one of the largest multisport adaptive competitions in the U.S. – is partnering with HeadSet Sports to provide an elite mental performance program for individuals preparing to compete in the 2021 Tokyo Paralympic Games or adapted sports National Championships.
A second program for youth athletes, the “Future Champions Preparation Program”, also will be offered. Both programs begin on April 14, 2021; registration is available at angelcitysports.org. The Hollywood Times spoke with Clayton Frech, Founder & CEO of Angel City Sports.
Tell us about the important work of Angel City Sports.
Angel City Sports provides sports and recreational programming for people of all ages, literally from toddlers to the elderly, who happen to have a physical disability. We call what we do “adaptive” sports and we offer free, year-round sports training, equipment, and competitive opportunities for our community. Everyone knows that participating in sport helps keep us physically healthy, but it can do so much more for us! For our athletes, who don’t have easy access to sport at school or traditional sport organizations, sport can transform lives. Sport provides community, creates a sense of belonging, and helps athletes find self-acceptance and ultimately self-confidence. We like to say, when you do the impossible, it allows people to dream, on and off the court.
You have partnered with HeadSet Sports to provide an elite performance program for individuals preparing to compete in the 2021 Tokyo Paralympic Games or adapted sports National Championships. What excites you the most about this partnership?
What excites me about this program are two things. First, it represents a strategic shift in our organization towards supporting elite athletes. We have primarily been focused on the new or developing athlete since we started programming in 2015. Elites have always been an important part of our organization and helped coach and mentor, but now we are offering something directly for them. Secondly, we know how important the mental side of life is, regardless of your career. Where is the elite athlete, who is barely making a living, supposed to get world-class sports psychology support? We are bringing this program to them, free of charge, in the hopes that they will perform better in Tokyo, win more medals, and accomplish more in sport and beyond sport.
The unique training programs will help athletes optimize their performance and mental strength so they can perform their best in peak pressure situations. Athletes accepted for this program will have access to the HeadSet Sports app and include:
- A sport psychology assessment
- Full feedback report
- Mental workouts of the week
- Video Library
- Social Media Engagement with HeadSet experts and athletes
- Pre-competition preparation checklist
- Six bi-weekly group discussions led by HeadSet Sports
- Two leadership check-ins with the Future Champions program
Tell us about the “Future Champions Preparation Program.”
This program parallels the Elite Program but is for athletes who likely won’t make the team to compete in the Tokyo Paralympic Games, but who are ambitious and working towards an athletic goal. Again, if elite athletes don’t have easy access to mental strength training, where is the aspiring athlete going to get this? I believe we are filling a gap in sports that nobody else is really addressing. We hope to see these athletes on the podium in Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028! But honestly, more important than that, if they can all take away tools and techniques from the training to help them in their lives with school, work, relationships, and health, then this will have been worth it a thousand times over.
Athletes accepted for this program will have access to the HeadSet Sports app. Why is this critical to an athlete’s success?
The program was designed to have regular check-ins every other week with the Headset Sports team. However, we know the athlete’s journey is full of ups and downs. We knew we needed a way to keep everyone learning and growing and evolving in between sessions. The cool thing about this partnership with Headset Sports is that the app is always available and has a rich base of training modules to help athletes with various aspects of the mental game. This is almost like having your own advisor or psychologist with you all the time. If you are experiencing something mentally or emotionally, you can pop open the app and find content that is relevant to what you are going through. Honestly, this was one of the first things we got excited about when we first met Jason Galea from Headset Sports. We are just thrilled to give our participants access to the app so they can have ongoing support in the journey!
Do you have any additional thoughts about the partnership and your goals?
We are beyond thrilled with the partnership with Headset Sports. We feel like we are doing something that is not really being done in the adaptive sports community. However, we are all struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic in different ways, whether it be economically, socially, and emotionally, or other ways. And we know that elite performance in anything, sport, art, career, music, etc. requires significant mental strength. Thus, I just think the timing of this program is really relevant and important. Everyone needs mental strength training, especially our athletes who faced significant social isolation, bullying in schools, and negative social stigmas already! As we look to the future, we see many ways to scale the program up and help hundreds, if not thousands of our athletes over time.
To learn more, please visit http://www.angelcitysports.org and follow @angelcitysports on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.
About Angel City Sports
Angel City Sports began in June 2013 when Clayton and Ezra Frech were on the track at the Endeavor Games in Oklahoma City and asked the question, “Why do we need to come to tornado alley to run, jump, and throw things? Why aren’t there more programs in Southern California?”
This began our journey to create the Angel City Games, Southern California’s own multi-sport Paralympic style competition and celebration of Adaptive Sports. In October 2014, we found a facility and programming partner in UCLA Recreation and set about to create a one-of-a-kind competition and event experience for youth and adults with physical disabilities.
The first Angel City Games in June 2015 were tremendously successful, with 150 athletes participating in Track & Field and Wheelchair Basketball clinics and competition. Over 1,300 attendees came through over the 2 day event; Hollywood stars Adam Sandler and Christian Bale and several pro athletes were on-hand to cheer the athletes and participate in our Celebrity Wheelchair Basketball Game; and our media partners at Fox Sports AM 570 – LA’s largest sports radio station – broadcast live from the track at UCLA’s Drake Stadium during the event. The first Angel City Games exceeded all of our expectations and were a huge hit with families, volunteers, sponsors, partners, and most importantly with the athletes, many of whom participated in Adaptive Sports for the first time.
Upon wrapping up the 2015 Games and recognizing the tremendous barriers that exist for this community to become active and participate in sports, we expanded our vision and pivoted our brand to Angel City Sports. We hope to address the myriad of challenges that exist – lack of events, programs, training, and coaches, transportation and access, the high cost of equipment, and the expansive geography of Southern California – and spark the Paralympic and Adaptive Sports movement in our community.
Today we’re offering a year-round schedule of introductory adaptive sport clinics, giving athletes opportunities to participate, learn and train in a variety of sports. We’ve expanded the Angel City Games from two to four days, adding new sport clinics and competitions including Archery, Swimming, Wheelchair Tennis, Track & Field, and Wheelchair Basketball. We’re building an inventory of Adaptive Sports equipment to be loaned or rented to other programs and individuals who want to get into the game. As more participants join us throughout the year at clinics and events we look forward to learning about their goals and aspirations to participate in Adaptive Sports.