A team of students in Utah known as the Rec N Crew will be going to this year’s National Wheelchair Basketball Association Championship for the first time ever. The team is made up of both guys and girls ages 11 to 18. Though the kids come from a variety of schools, the team is sanctioned like a regular high school team, meaning the players have to keep up with their grades in order to compete.
“It gets very, very physical. Kids tip over in their chairs,” said the Rec N Crew’s coach Adam Lindsay. According to him, the wheelchair version of basketball is mostly the same, with the major differences being 1.) It’s a lot faster and 2.) “Travelling” works a bit differently. A player cannot touch their “wheels more than twice after receiving or dribbling the ball… [They] must pass, bounce or shoot the ball before touching the wheels again” or it’s considered travelling.
Wheelchair basketball was started in 1944 by Ludwig Guttman who worked at a rehabilitation program where he adapted several existing sports so they could be played using wheelchairs. Wheelchair basketball first became popular after World War II when disabled veterans started playing it. Now it’s one of the most common wheelchair sports and is played around the world, including in the Paralympic Games.
As for the Rec N Crew, they’re the first high school team in Utah to make it to nationals, and it looks like they even have a shot at winning. Currently, they’re ranked second in the nation. According to Dennis Sorenson, father of one of the team members, “They get into it and they love it. They are a team, they play as a team, and their camaraderie is just perfect. They’re friends out on the court and off the court.”