Wheelchair Sports Federation | Adaptive Sports Organization
Reds win D2 Wheelchair Softball National Championship Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   

 

It’s that time of the year again.  Summer is coming to an end and fall is approaching.  That means softball season is coming to a close.  It also means that it is that time of the year where teams all across the country come together to compete at a destination decided one year prior.  This year that place is Chicago.  I had been to one of these tournaments before, but this would be my first year playing as a starter.  Because I’m a quad my position is catcher.  Not a very impactful role on the team but one every team has to have.  Regardless I found myself getting more and more excited for the thrill of competition and being a contributing member of a team.  Like the other players on the Cincinnati Reds we were, are, and always will be athletes with fierce competitive drives.  Chants of “Must be Nationals!” filled the air as the last practice concluded before we were set to leave for Chicago. 

The road to Nationals started off rocky.  A closed highway delayed our start time by an hour.  A dead car battery set us back another hour.  Eventually we got everyone’s equipment loaded up and were on our way.  We made it into Chicago in the early evening.  After checking into the hotel and getting settled in, we all went out for some good Chicago deep dish pizza before retiring for the evening for a full day of softball the next day.  Of course that slight chance of rain turned into a down pour on the way back to the hotel.  While crossing a street to get back I heard the sound of tires screeching on wet road and turned to see our pitcher dodging traffic.  For a second I thought my competition as the only quad on the team was in jeopardy.  But we made it back, tired, stuffed, and ready for a full day of softball in the morning.

The first day began with us playing Japan.  Yes Japan.  Nationals had become international.  It was a really cool experience.  Of course it probably wouldn’t have been as much fun if we would’ve lost, but winning made the experience that much greater.  Our defense played outstanding and the bats were swinging.  We won easily and took some momentum going into the second game.  The second game didn’t go quite as well.  There’s something about playing the number one team in the country in the pouring rain that’s even harder than it sounds.  We lost that game but not our motivation as we went into the third game.  With great defensive play we won the third.  Then, with the sun going down and the rain coming steadily we headed into the fourth game under the lights.  We put up a good fight and after a couple of lead changes the other team got the better of us.  Tired and soaking wet we returned to the hotel.  We had gone 2-2 for the day and found ourselves in division 2.  We knew that we weren’t the most talented team, and player for player point wise we didn’t match up with other teams, but we were determined not to lose another game. 

As luck would have it we were the last team to play day 1 and the first to play on day 2.  Tired and sore we took the field.  Our defense was outstanding as we shut them down while shaking off the rust for batting.  We won a low scoring game.  But that was becoming this team’s mantra.  Play as a team and do what it takes to win.  We won the second game in similar fashion.  By the third game we had lost one of our better players who had to leave for Olympic weight training.  Anytime you lose an Olympian that’s going to hurt.  But it was ok.  The identity of winning as a team had been established through the veteran leadership.  Veterans unselfishly played other positions to give the team the best chance to win.  First and second year players, who made up a third of the team, listened and executed their assignments.  Everything clicked.  We won the game and found ourselves 3-0 for the day and heading to the division 2 championship.

We took this attitude into the championship game.  We only had ten players, just enough to field a team, but we knew this championship was ours.  Veteran infielders moved to the outfield to play to our strengths.  We even shifted our best outfielders left and right depending on the batter.  But that was ok, because we were a team that was unselfish and wanted to win.  Everyone made a contribution.  It was one of the more complete team games I had been a part of.  We won the game 4-3.  And in fitting fashion the game was won by a first year player making a play in the outfield with a throw to first base, because he was in position due to a veteran telling him where to be. 

It’s hard to describe a trip like this.  It was a blast on and off the field.  We had great team chemistry and friendships were made and strengthened.  This team came together and did what it needed to do to win and had fun doing it.  We won because of the coaching and pitching of Dave Anders, the hot bat of Joe Wittkamp, Terry “can’t wait” Boyd ball hawking in the outfield, Rick Swauger’s swagger, James Tarpenning beating run downs, the bat and glove of Charlie Coon, the “best shortstop in the game” Dougie Dumas, the speed of Homar Colin, first year Gary Dwyer manning third base, and Roy Enyart Jr. coming off the bench and making plays. 

 I’m grateful to have been a part of the 2013 6-2 Division 2 Champion Cincinnati Reds.  

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 September 2013 16:35
 
New York City Wheelchair Basketball Tournament Returns on October 5-6, 2013 Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   

The 13th annual Matthew Sapolin Memorial Wheelchair Basketball Tournament will bring the nation's best wheelchair basketball teams to New York City for two days of non-stop action on October 5th and 6th! The tournament, held at Manhattan College's Draddy Gymnasium in the Bronx, is the largest of its kind in the Northeast and has become one of the premier events on the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) schedule. Formerly known as the Mayor's Cup, the event has been renamed to honor Commissioner Matthew Sapolin, who passed away in 2011 after leading the NYC Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities for nearly a decade.

Preliminary rounds will take place Saturday, October 5, from 10AM to 7PM, and the playoffs will begin on Sunday, October 7, at8AM. The championship game will take place on Sunday, October 7, at 11:00AM. Admission is FREE for all spectators and there are volunteer opportunities available on both days of the tournament, so everyone can be involved with this great event in some way!

The Matthew Sapolin Memorial Wheelchair Basketball Tournament is organized by NYC & Company, the City's official marketing, tourism and partnership organization, and supported by the Wheelchair Sports Federation and the Bulova Stetson Fund.

For the most up-to-date information regarding the schedule, rosters, volunteer opportunities, photos, videos and more, please visitwww.Facebook.com/SapolinTournament.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 September 2013 16:35
 
North Jersey Navigators Earn 2012 Amazing Sport Club Award Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   

 

 

The U.S. Olympic Committee announced that the North Jersey Navigators—an adaptive sports team for junior athletes with disabilities—received the 2012 Amazing Sport Club Award, one of seven recipients of the 2013 Paralympic Amazing Awards. Navigators’ Head Coach Jim Cuevas was also awarded the 2012 National Coach of the Year Award for Paralympics Track & Field.

 

The Navigators provide opportunities for young athletes with disabilities to train in sports, including track and field, road racing, archery, swimming and table tennis. Based in Jersey City, N.J., the team competes on state, national and international levels. Navigator Raymond Martin won four gold medals in four events at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. Kessler Foundation provided seed funding to the team and continues to distribute grants to cover travel and training costs.

 

Elaine Katz, Vice President of Grants and Special Initiatives at Kessler Foundation, said, “It has been wonderful to be so involved with the Navigators over the years, and to chart their success since they started out as a small, grassroots program and now watch them compete as a large team. We are proud of their accomplishments and happy they are getting the recognition they deserve.”

 

Upon his son joining the team 12 years ago, Cuevas got involved with the Navigators when there was just four members on the team. They obtained funding and partnered with other organizations to gain resources necessary to expand the team. “The past two years have been excellent for us and it has been an amazing experience to see our athletes grow up as independent and productive individuals. Some are developing to a point where they can compete at the next level at International competitions and even the Paralympic Games,” he said.

 

The Paralympic Amazing Awards honor individuals and organizations that make a significant impact on the Paralympic Movement in the U.S. Winners reflect success in grassroots development, elite performance, sponsorships and telling the Paralympic story. In return, more opportunities are provided to people with physical disabilities in the U.S. Award categories include Amazing Leader Award, Amazing Sport Club Award, Amazing Investor Award, Amazing Impact Award, Amazing Mentor Award and Amazing Salute Award.

 

About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit 
KesslerFoundation.org.

 

Contacts:
Lauren Scrivo, 973.324.8384973.768.6583 - c, 
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Carolann Murphy, 973.324.8382
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Lauren Scrivo, MA

Communications Specialist

Kessler Foundation

300 Executive Drive, Suite 70

West Orange, NJ 07052

Office 973.324.8384

Cell 973.768.6583

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http://kesslerfoundation.org

 

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 18:20
 
Wheelchair Basketball Star Heads For Maccabiah Games, Harvard Law Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   

 07/16/2013 - 08:28

 

Emily Seelenfreund held a demonstration at Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ on July 2. Ron Kaplan 

Emily Seelenfreund  was diagnosed at birth with a disease that made her vulnerable to broken bones, and was enrolled in physical therapy at 6 months. By the time she was 5, the Hoboken native was outfitted with a wheelchair that helped her get around and was an active competitor in track and field events for the disabled. By the time she was 11, she began playing wheelchair basketball. 

Within two years she found she was really good at the sport. It brought her championships, an athletic scholarship, and the chance to travel “all over the U.S.,” to Canada and Australia.

And next week, to Israel.

Seelenfreund, a 22-year-old guard who has “a pretty mild type” of osteogenesis imperfecta (aka Brittle Bone Disease, a congenital collagen deficiency that affects an estimated 20,000-50,000 people in this country), will be a member of the U.S. co-ed wheelchair basketball team in the Maccabiah Games. “I’m a good defender,” she says. “I’m very competitive.”

Seelenfreund will leave Israel two days before the end of the games to return to her job as a third-grade teacher, under the auspices of Teach for America, on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico.

Like many people in wheelchairs, she has strong arms. She does some weightlifting, but most of her strength comes from pushing her chair “every day.”

Like other wheelchair athletes, she will travel to Israel with a pair of chairs — one, which she uses daily on the street, and one, specially outfitted, for basketball.

Like other wheelchair basketball players, she’s strapped into her sports chair, to prevent her from falling out of it in case of a collision.

She has already suffered a broken arm from playing basketball. “It was just a broken arm. Anyone could hurt themselves playing.” She recovered, and went back to the court. How many other times has she broken bones? “I haven’t kept count.”

People who learn of her athletic background are often surprised, Seelenfreund says. “Most people haven’t heard of wheelchair basketball.”

The most-common question she hears: “Can you dribble?” Of course she can. She can also shoot, from as far away as the three-point line, and she can pass.

People sometimes ask, “Can you dunk?” Silly question. Of course she can’t.

Seelenfreund responds with a question: “Can you imagine my wheelchair flying 10 feet in the air?”

Seelenfreund is also a certified scuba diver.

A 4.0-GPA political science graduate of the University of Alabama (one of four colleges in the U.S. that offer both men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball programs), Seelenfreund will attend law school at Harvard University after she finishes her teaching assignment in New Mexico.

For the last month she has been back with her parents in New Jersey, training for her upcoming competition at the Jewish Community Center in West Orange. Her family is active in the United Synagogue of Hoboken congregation, where Seelenfreund also served as a summer camp counselor; she became bat mitzvah at Temple Sharey Tefilo Israel in South Orange, whose sanctuary and bimah were wheelchair accessible.

This year she hosted a seder for some friends on Passover at her home in Gallup.

Seelenfreund, who’s been in Israel twice before — once on a family trip, once on Birthright — was recruited to the Maccabiah team by an official whose specializes in disabled athletes. She accepted right away. “I love to travel. I love Israel.”

She was an alternate on the U.S. women’s basketball team in the Paralympics last year, but didn’t get to go to London.

The 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro are on her mind, Seelenfreund says. “I would love it.”

Steve Lipman is a staff writer at The Jewish Week.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 17:14
 
New York Mets And Major League Baseball Reach Out To Wheelchair Athletes Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   

 

Specialized Chairs Make Rounding The Bases Much Easier

 

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With all of the excitement surrounding the upcoming Major League Baseball All Star Game the timing was perfect for athletes from the Wheelchair Sports Federation to put their own skills on display on Sunday.

These stars can hit, field, and round the bases, and having adapted the game to their wheelchairs, nothing can slow them down.

“I’ve been playing wheelchair sports for 21-years. I lost my leg in the United States Navy,” Edy Lopez told CBS 2′s Tracee Carrasco.

Players from the federation took the field in specialized sports wheel chairs on Sunday to play an exhibition game as part of the All Star Fan Fest.

“I have spinabifida, so walking, I can still walk around but my mobility isn’t that great. Walking gets a little tiring,” Bryan Genovese said.

 

“It’s definitely a lot quicker, compared to my normal everyday chair,” Genovese said, “I don’t have to worry about falling over sideways if I have to make a quick turn.”Genovese and other athletes received the chairs as a donation from the New York Mets and Major League Baseball.

 

Competing in wheelchair athletics can be very expensive, the donated chairs give the athletes a chance to go out and play ball.

“These athletes, now will have these chairs to train, to compete,” Wheelchair Sports Federation President, John Hamre said.

The players hoped that the donation would raise more awareness for their sport, the federation supports athletes around the country.

 

 http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/07/14/new-york-mets-and-major-league-baseball-reach-out-to-wheelchair-athletes/

 

For another story at MLB.com, click below 

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130714&content_id=53794134&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb

Last Updated on Friday, 19 July 2013 18:40
 
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