HOWARD COUNTY — Two different social circles, two different class schedules, little to no interaction, all describe how Glenelg High School students Amitav Kohli and Ryan Kobylski were with each other.
That all changed in September when physical education instructor AJ Rosenthal tried to find ways to get Kobylski more actively involved in his Allied football games.
Having seen wheelchair accessories for gamers before, Rosenthal contacted Ray Gerstner, career and technical education professor at GHS and leader of the school’s robotics team, to see if he had any students who would be interested in designing a device to help Kobylski.
Gerstner reached out to the only person he knew was up to the challenge, Kohli.
“Amitav spends every minute of his free time in the robotics workshop. I knew if I gave him that challenge, he would pick it up and run with it,” Gerstner says.
Kohli quickly got to work, and within days he had developed a model to test Kobylski in practice, making many changes along the way.
Although the device is a work in progress, Rosenthal says it has helped tremendously in the way Kobylski acts and plays on the football field.
“Ryan’s device allows him to play without assistance, which is huge. He feels more confident and independent, both on and off the pitch.
Kobylski says the new device on his chair has given him greater ability to control the soccer ball.
For Kohli, the project was worth it on many levels.
“It was wonderful to see how much better Ryan could handle the ball [using the device]“recalls Kohli. “I’ll never forget the first time he used it in a game. He drove the ball all the way up the pitch to the goal. It made him so happy to do that, and it made me happy to see him happy.