New $10M Arena Shows Commitment to Students with Disabilities

Pictured, from left, are Maude Jacques, women’s wheelchair tennis player; Dr. Peter Hlebowitsh, dean, UA College of Education; C. Ray Hayes, chancellor of the UA System; Dr. Margaret Stran, associate director, UA Adapted Athletics; Dr. Brent Hardin, director, UA Adapted Athletics; Dr. Stuart R. Bell, UA president; Mike and Kathy Mouron, UA alumni and donors; Jasper Cornett, vice president, KPS Group; Tim Harrison, Harrison Construction; and James Cook, men’s wheelchair basketball player.

On Jan. 10, a dream become reality when The University of Alabama cut the ribbon on its vanguard for adapted sports.

UA Adapted Athletics players and coaches, university administrators and supporters of the program celebrated the completion of Stran-Hardin Arena, a $10 million multi-purpose facility for UA’s Adapted Athletics program.

The two-story facility, named for Drs. Brent Hardin and Margaret Stran, founders of the program, includes a NCAA regulation game venue for wheelchair basketball, locker rooms, athletic training room, strength and conditioning room, team meeting rooms and study halls. Stran-Hardin Arena is along the south façade of the UA Rec Center, east of the main entrance.

“It started with a dream that Brent and I had when we met. And that dream was realized here at The University of Alabama, but that dream happened because of these students, who said, ‘yeah, we’ll believe in your dream. We’ll come’ …. So, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for making this dream and this building become a reality.” Dr. Margaret Stran

Stran-Hardin Arena will open to the public during a wheelchair basketball alumni tournament Saturday, Jan. 20.

“The facility is a testament to the many people who have a commitment to students with disabilities,” said Hardin, director of UA Adapted Athletics. “It’s also a reflection of all our students who’ve been pioneers and have paved the way for other students with disabilities.

“Stran-Hardin Arena will give University of Alabama supporters a great place to watch us compete, but it also changes expectations of who we are and what we can do, and pushes us further in that direction.”

UA Adapted Athletics 

  • The program began in 2003 with women’s wheelchair basketball.
  • The program now includes 30 student-athletes in women’s basketball, men’s basketball, wheelchair tennis, para-rowing and adapted golf.
  • UA is home to six national championships in men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball (2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017).
  • Wheelchair tennis has won three national championships (2013, 2015, 2017).
  • More than 100 students participate in the program’s noncompetitive sports options.

Caitlin McDermott, a UA alumna who won a national championship with UA’s women’s wheelchair basketball team in 2015, said Stran-Hardin Arena addresses all of the needs of UA’ adapted athletes.

“We now have our own space, where we can be comfortable and focus on our training,” McDermott said. “The biggest addition is the weight room and having our own adapted equipment so we don’t have to worry about figuring out what machines we can and can’t use and trying to adapt equipment geared toward able-bodied athletes.”

In September 2017, Mike and Kathy Mouron, UA alumni and Mountain Brook residents, launched the project’s fundraising campaign with two gifts totaling $4 million. The Mourons announced the arena would be named for Hardin and Stran, who’ve led the program since its inception and have coached multiple national championship teams at UA.

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.