Brent Norris of San Antonio Wheelchair Spurs (right) tries to block Ryan Hundemer's, of Houston Warrior, shot at the basket on Sunday at Jowers. The Spurs lost 65-43.
Basketball is a sport of speed, strength and skill. This weekend at Texas State, however, basketball became a game of speed, strength and wheels.
The Adaptive Sports Club of Texas State (A.S.C.O.T.S.) and the Austin Rec’ers hosted their annual Texas Classic Wheelchair Basketball Tournament Saturday and Sunday in the Jowers Center. The Rec’ers, a 35-year-old team, finished fifth in the national tournament last year in Denver, and its president, David Ware, has high aspirations for this year.
“We are going to win it all,” Ware said. “We’re so close. We have a good squad. Everybody seems to be happy.”
The Rec’ers is a Division III team in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association. The NWBA was founded in 1948, largely by war veterans, and consists of more than 200 teams, including men’s, women’s, intercollegiate and youth divisions. The Rec’ers will travel to Las Vegas and Kentucky this year.
“I’d say every major city has a basketball team,” Ware said. “They actually have scholarships, some of the teams in colleges. The University of Texas at Arlington has a fantastic squad. They’re a pipeline to the Olympics.”
Wheelchair basketball has both similar and different rules than how people with out a disability play basketball. Fouls and free throws are the same, and traveling is still against the rules. There is no double-dribbling, but a player must bounce the ball once for every two moves he makes. The players’ chairs are different, as the basketball chair is cambered and makes turns normal wheelchairs cannot make. There are three different classifications for players.
“Class one is someone who doesn’t have lower abs, so if they lean forward, they have to use their hands to push them back up,” Ware said. “Class two would be someone like me, where I can sit forward and pick myself up. Class three would be like an amputee. If you add up all the points, you can’t have more than 11 for division three.”
Tori Riddles, A.S.C.O.T.S. president, was focused on making sure this year’s tournament was more successful than previous ones.
“This year, we have about 100 volunteers, when normally, we have 20 to 30,” said Riddles, therapeutic recreation junior. “They’re not professional teams, but they are organized teams that have practices every week, and we just want to show them more support than they have gotten in the past. Most students in main campus don’t even know we exist, so it’s hard to get the word out without other organizations’ help.”
It is A.S.C.O.T.S.’ mission — and Riddles’ goal — to destroy the ever-present wall between people with disabilities and people without them.
“We are all just trying to take it in a more aggressive approach as far as getting the word of inclusion out there,” Riddles said. “People in chairs don’t have to be separated from people who aren’t in chairs, and that’s not just wheelchairs. That’s any disability. I really do find that it is incredibly important for people to know that people with and without disabilities can do the exact same things.”