Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wheelchair Rugby: It ain't just for buff young crips anymore.

Last weekend I experienced my first wheelchair rugby match.  I was a little distracted because we were babysitting my two nieces and I had a gaggle of children along, but it was fun to finally see how the game is played in person. 

Rich has been invited to play with the Tucson Pterodactyls: http://www.tucsonmurderball.com/.  Although he has finally made it up past the status of mascot, and has actually scored points in a game, he did not play this weekend, but still dressed out and went out on the court with his teammates and cheered them on.  Since he's been having trouble with his knee, and hasn't been able to smash the racquetball around like usual, this has been a great way for him to stay active.  The kids have also had fun watching him assemble and disassemble and get parts for the wheelchair, a Mad Max-style contraption that is practically invincible and won't fit through any doorway, the bottoms of the wheels are set so far apart for stability and the metal bumpers around the edges are so wide.

As in the film Murderball, the chairs smashed and bashed into one another continually, and players exchanged heated words, chairs rolled over on top of their players, etc.  It wasn't quite as violent or as heated as I had hoped for, I'll admit, but there was definitely a competitive spirit and good-natured trash talking during the game.  The players were fit and young.  The timing of the game kept throwing me off.  They could be trucking fast downcourt, stop on a dime and swivel to one side or the other.  Other times, the whole game would come to a standstill when two players had locked up the wheels of another and the player with the ball had trouble finding a place to pass.  Other times, a player realized nobody could catch up with him, and he effortlessly coasted 20 feet to the goal line. 

My cousin Jeremy is in town for his PT internship, and so we got out to the game together, and I think he had fun, too.  Turns out he works with #13's wife.

Between games, at home, G (who had been to the earlier game) made this out of legos:
You can't even see all the details in this shot.  He built the thing complete with an accurately shaped rear bumper, clips to keep her feet pulled back into the wheelchair (most of the guys strap their legs in) and fold-uppable arm rests.  Oh, and caster wheels in the front and back. I did not know they were called caster wheels, but he did.  To me, the real ones simply look like wheels from rollerblades. The large cardboard wheels were taped to lego wheels, so they turned.  He hunted until he found the exact right size of doll to sit in it... cracks me up that it's the Grandmother doll from O's Loving Family doll set.  Talk about combatting stereotypes!  I'll find some more photos and get them posted.  Good times-- totally free of charge.  And, by the way, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe has a wonderful recreation center out there!  Nice gym!

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