Disability basketball games raises awareness

Megan Cole

On Thursday evening, in honor of Disability Awareness month, the WKU Student Accessibility Center, the National Wheelcats and WKU Intramurals teamed up to host the Annual Wheelchair Basketbrawl Challenge. Nashville wheelchair basketball teams traveled to WKU for a scrimmage.

Wheels rolled across the floor as basketballs flew through the air for perfect shots.

“I think that this brings awareness that, while people may play differently, they aren’t lacking any form of ability,” Preston Center’s assistant director, Candice Douglas, said. “It highlights our need to celebrate Disability Awareness.”

Playing for a wheelchair basketball team in Nashville for close to 10 years, Matt Davis, WKU professor and Student Accessibility Resource Center coordinator, said he was able to meet many people with various disabilities.

“We don’t have a wheelchair basketball program in the community and that is something that I would like to see,” Davis said.

Getting ready for the game, Davis laughed while transferring into his basketball wheelchair.

“It’s been awhile since I’ve played so don’t laugh too hard if I miss,” Davis said. “It’s like riding a bicycle though, once you learn you never forget.”

Jeff Hall, program director of the Music City team, says he has been a part of the program for 11 years. Hall said he got into playing during his freshman year at UNC Charlotte 16 years ago when he went to a practice one day. He has played ever since.

“It’s been amazing over the years seeing the exposure that adaptive sports can have not only to the disabled community but the sports community as a whole,” Hall said.

Hall said adaptive sports tend to broaden your horizons and gives you a different lens to view competitive sports from.

“It’s something that affects each and every one of us and it’s something we can all learn a great deal from,” Hall said. “It’s definitely something we’re all passionate about.”

Pulling a sweatshirt over his head, he revealed his jersey reading “Music City” across the front as he prepared to compete in the games Thursday.

“In the post 9/11 world, we’ve definitely seen an influx of veterans come into the program,” Hall said. “They were very physically active before their physical life was altered and you can see that as they begin to play again, life is brought back into them through adaptive sports. It lets them know that life is different, but life goes on.”

The metal bleachers spilled over with students coming to see the games, including sophomore Dana Jorgensen.

“It’s definitely different but it’s also really exciting,” Jorgensen said.

Jorgensen gestured to the court as an offensive player broke away from a defensive block and banked a perfect shot and said she believes the program is a really good thing.

“Everyone deserves a chance to play, and I think this is what this is,” Jorgensen said. “It’s a chance for them to play and for us to celebrate what they have to offer.”

“Our main goal and purpose with adaptive sports is to highlight and focus on the person and their abilities, not their disabilities,” Davis said.

Reporter Megan Cole can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected].