Courtesy of Paul Ward Photography.
Born with Spina Bifida, the most common birth defect in America, senior Josh Joines refused to let his disability hold him back from achieving his goals. He has undergone eighteen surgeries in his lifetime, causing him to miss more school than his peers, but refuses to let these setbacks hinder his academic success. As a Magnet student, Joines excels in academics and takes on any challenge presented to him, and actively plays wheelchair basketball in his spare time.
Joines learned how to respond to constant questions about Spina Bifida. He takes pride in educating others about his disability and raising awareness.
“I actually enjoy getting asked questions because I get to explain my disability and to help people understand what’s going on,” Joines said.
After feeling unchallenged in local basketball teams, Joines joined the Play Sports’ wheelchair basketball team as a fifth grader and immediately found his passion. He enjoyed the fast-paced feel of the game and felt his contributions and efforts to the team could make or break the game. As a competitive person, he thrives on the energy in the stadium and enjoys the feeling of the adrenaline pumping through his veins during the game.
“Somebody wins and somebody loses; nobody ties. I fell in love with that,” Joines said.
His team, Atlanta Junior Wheelchair Hawks, ranked number three in the nation, allows Joines to travel across the country to play other teams. The opportunities let him and his teammates excel on the court and see any future improvements. He also formed friendships and a strong support system through a team that provides encouragement and pushes him to exceed his goals.
“I have a group of guys and girls I can call on anytime that understand what I’m going through, no matter what,” Joines said.
The team also allows Joines to form new friendships while traveling across the country during tournaments. Meeting new people causes him to compare himself to others and see where he can improve himself, feeding his competitive nature.
“Beyond my group of teammates, I have friends from around the country. I have friends in Michigan and in Alabama and Illinois, and I talk to them constantly and it’s really cool to have friends from everywhere,” Joines said.
Due to his achievement, four universities — the University of Alabama, University of Illinois, Auburn University, and University of Missouri — offered Joines scholarships to participate in their respective basketball teams.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to talk to the coaches and have the opportunity to continue to play in college. It is a cool opportunity to continue my education at great institutions,” Joines said.
Acworth and Kennesaw do not let Joines’ accomplishments go unnoticed. Throughout NC, he receives an outpour of support from students, staff, and administration. Principal Bucky Horton and other administrative staff consistently ask him about the basketball season and updates on his accomplishments. News outlets, such as Fox 5 News Atlanta, acknowledge Joines’ success and interview him on his basketball career and achievements on and off the court regularly.
Most importantly, Joines’ family provides the greatest support. His parents push and encourage him to work hard and support the financial side of wheelchair basketball.
“My family has supported me from the start. It’s not a cheap sport so monetarily they help me a lot,” Joines said. “Also, my dad is one of my coaches so he talks to me constantly. He pushes me hard and my mom pushes me even harder.”
Joines learned through his disability to not let anything stand in his way for success. He believes when he stumbles and falls, he should rise again to seize every moment and not let life pass him by.
“The minute that the ball’s tipped and we get started I don’t really worry. It’s all about winning at that point and doing what I can to help the team and being a leader on the court,” Joines said.