ASN Chargers junior varsity wheelchair basketball team set to scrimmage

Abil.ity Sport Network wheelchair basketball team

Action awaits when the UAH Chargers Ability Sport Network junior varsity wheelchair basketball team scrimmages with Birmingham’s Lakeshore Lakers.

Jay Medeiros / J C Medeiros Photography

The UAH Chargers Ability Sport Network (ASN) junior varsity wheelchair basketball team will scrimmage with Birmingham’s Lakeshore Lakers from 11 a.m. to noon Oct. 21 at the University Fitness Center.

Admission to the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) event is free. Junior varsity players are 13-18 years old. The UAH team’s parents booster club will be accepting donations to raise money for the team’s travel costs.

"We'll be playing in Birmingham, Raleigh, Atlanta and Louisville this year," says David Kyle, ASN director and lecturer in the Department of Kinesiology. "That's a lot of travel and the families will need the community’s help to get their athletes to the games."

UAH’s ASN is an adapted youth sport league focusing on Paralympic sports and intended for middle and high school students with functional limitations based on physical disabilities. These can include but are not limited to amputation, paralysis or other impairments caused by a spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy or stroke. Students should not be eligible for Special Olympics in order to participate in the ASN. The ASN is funded by a grant from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE).

"All someone has to do is to show up and have fun," Kyle says. "The hardest aspect of what we do is getting the word out to the people that need us most."

He says 15-20 percent of the population has some type of disability, so there are many more people that need to participate in adapted sport and physical activity.

"There are only 50 NWBA junior varsity teams in the country," Kyle says. "That is not enough!"

People with disabilities are seriously under-served in terms of sport and physical activity opportunities, he says.

"We want the community to see just how fun and competitive wheelchair basketball is, and hopefully start more teams," Kyle says. "I'd love to start a junior varsity team for age 12 and under, an adult team and a UAH collegiate team. Only 12 universities in the country are playing collegiate wheelchair basketball and I want to be the next one. The main point is to get more people moving."

Wheelchair basketball is one of the most popular Paralympic/adapted sports in the world. Players do not have to be regular wheelchair users in order to play and people with various disabilities all play together.

"I especially like to have my UAH students try it out," Kyle says. "They are surprised at how much skill it takes. The sport chair is used to play the game, much like one would use a bicycle in a bike race."

UAH’s ASN seeks to expand the program and add more sports.

"We can be very responsive to the needs of the community, as we have several different kinds of adapted sports equipment," Kyle says. "Unfortunately, people with disabilities tend to be inactive more than they should. This might lead someone to be hesitant to try out adapted sport or other new activities. I believe that once someone experiences what we do at ASN, then they will fall in love with how fun sport and physical activity can be."


David Kyle

Jim Steele