Matt Berwick, who up until 15 did not have a disability, has taken advantage of his opportunities, even while being in a wheelchair.
This past Tuesday, Rock U invited Berwick, a quad rugby player and a program manager for UPMC, who suffered a spinal cord injury at age 15 to speak about his disability and some of the challenges that have come from it.
Although Berwick has had to learn to adapt after his C5 and C6 (neck) spinal core industry, that has not slowed him down when it comes to competing. On top of being a quad rugby player, Berwick participates in curling and has tried bocce, water skiing, handcycling, and softball. Berwick also went on to say if it is adventurous, then he will give it a shot.
“I did get confirmation from one of my favorite people at Slippery Rock that we are going to go sky diving together,” Berwick excitedly mentioned.
When looking at his experience, it made it so he could not become the flight attendant that he had once planned to be, he joked adding that he could not reach the overhead bin to get luggage in or out anymore. However, Berwick felt that his disability helped shape his future.
“I had an experience, it really shaped how my life has gone,” Berwick said.
After opening the floor up to a Q&A, Rock U’s Vice President, Taylor Peacock, asked Berwick how he was introduced to the world of disability sports. Just six days after his injury, Berwick was introduced to the wheelchair rugby team while in a rehab hospital.
“If you haven’t seen wheelchair rugby, it is one of the more violent wheelchair disability sports,” Berwick continued to joke “You couldn’t introduce me to golf or bacha?”
About three months after discharge, his doctor suggested that rugby was a great option for him, however, an additional three months was required to make sure that he did not cause any additional injuries, the especially due likelihood of him running into people while participating in wheelchair rugby.
Berwick also was a substitute teacher for a short amount of time, being that he would have to get dress up, it took over an hour for him to get ready and to the school to be ready to teach, a fast turn around in the mornings.
Overall, Berwick said that he was not sure knowing what things were going to look like after his injury, but has stayed positive.
“I was new to the whole injury thing. I wasn’t sure what life was going to look like,” Berwick said. “So I think [not knowing what life would look like] that was the toughest part because school was still in session, but I wasn’t going to school but all of my friends were in school during the day.”