supporters gathered for the <a href=
Chariots’ wheelchair basketball exhibition game Thursday night
in the <a href="http://www.convocenter.niu.edu/convo/" target="
Victor E. Huskie court to the <a href=
target=”_blank”>Chicago Bulls opening song, each player
received thunderous applause from the crowd as they were
introduced. The Chariots were split up into two teams to compete
head-to-head for the match.
The only thing
that turned faster than the wheels of the Rockford Chariots was the
heads of audience members trying to follow the action. Between
quick passes, lightning speed charges down the court, and perfectly
swishing shots, the players of the Rockford Chariots entertained an
Sheila Milan ,
coordinator for the Center for Access-Ability Resources, said the
game showcased how people with disabilities can still be openly
proactive within the community.
“It shows an
alternate to the stereotype that we see with people with
disabilities,” Milan said. “It’s to show diversity and professional
sports for those with disabilities.”
was proven easily by the Chariots. The intensity of the game grew
by the minute as players spun past each other, juked their
opponents left and right and scored perfectly executed layups and
even three pointers on a few instances. By the end of half, the
score was already 16-14, with white team leading.
intermission, fans attending the event had the opportunity to have
a seat in the wheelchairs and attempt the game from the Chariots’
perspective in a half-time free-throw contest.
major Anton Watkins said his experience was enjoyable but
“It’s harder than
standing up,” Watkins said. “Your arms get really
As they went full
force into the second half the playing became even more
competitive, but the players weren’t afraid to show their
playfulness with each other. As they dashed for the ball and spun
away to dodge steals, the team goofed with each other as they would
block their opponents’ paths, trade witty comments and throw
playful jabs. The punching, however, did result in a few instances
of free throws for the team receiving the humorous fists. The game
ended with a final score of 39-36 with the blue team coming out on
coordinator of residential facilities for Housing and Dining, said
the game was a great way to raise awareness to the sport. Kavulic
mentioned not just the playfulness of the team, but also the
members’ love of the sport.
“You see both how
the guys interact with each other, and you also see how they’re
getting out there and sweating,” Kavulic said.
Kavulic said the
best way to raise awareness is to model what one is attempting to
“It shows, at the
very least, that the campus is open to inclusion,” Kavulic
Abby Billips ,
recreation coordinator at the Rockford Park District, noted on how
playing sports builds confidence for all, but for people with
disabilities, it’s even more than that.
together people that have the love of the sport, but also have a
commonality of a huge disability,” Billips said.