Archive for Sunday, January 9, 2011

Wheelchair basketball tournament showcases tenacity of athletes

Jarvis Stirn, No. 20, right, a member of the Kansas Wheelhawks basketball team, passes the ball in a game against a Nebraska team Saturday in a wheelchair basketball tournament at Holcom Park Recreation Center. Teammate Jim Kesler, No. 32, of Sabetha, looks on from the perimeter.

Jarvis Stirn, No. 20, right, a member of the Kansas Wheelhawks basketball team, passes the ball in a game against a Nebraska team Saturday in a wheelchair basketball tournament at Holcom Park Recreation Center. Teammate Jim Kesler, No. 32, of Sabetha, looks on from the perimeter.

January 9, 2011

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Kansas Wheelhawks player reflects on the game

Jarvis Stirn, Lawrence, has been playing wheelchair basketball with the Kansas Wheelhawks for 14 years. Enlarge video

Wheelchair basketball

The Kansas Wheelhawks participated in a weekend wheelchair basketball tournament at Holcom Park Recreation Center. Enlarge video

Wheelhawks coach and player Ray Petty, Lawrence, center, instructs the team during a timeout.

Wheelhawks coach and player Ray Petty, Lawrence, center, instructs the team during a timeout.

Instead of squeaking shoes, there were a lot of ear-piercing metal collisions Saturday at the Holcom Park Recreation Center basketball court.

“You’ll hear a lot of clanging and banging and crashing of chairs,” warned Jarvis Stirn, member of the Kansas Wheelhawks, which hosted a wheelchair basketball tournament this weekend in Lawrence.

Teams from all over the region hit the court in the growing sport that’s part basketball and part demolition derby.

It’s the opportunity to feed that competitive streak that keeps the sport growing among athletes who were either born with a disability or who developed one later in life.

A former basketball player, Stirn had to come around to the idea of wheelchair basketball following an injury in 1995 that paralyzed him from the waist down.

“I played regular ball, and I’m not all that excited about it,” Stirn said about when he was approached about getting into the sport.

A few times up and down the court, and he was hooked.

“It’s still that rush of being up and down the court,” he said.

Wheelchair basketball is basically like it sounds; players compete on the court with many of the similar rules of basketball. Players, however, are rated on a scale of 1 to 3 based on their level of disability. For instance, those with more severe injuries receive a lower number, and those with less-severe disabilities have a higher number. The points for the five players on one team who can be on the court at one time can’t exceed 12.

The wheelchairs — which cost around $3,000 — are specially designed for the sport, with tires that look like they’ve been smashed inward. A few times a game, you can expect to see players crashing to the floor in a nosedive as the wheelchairs flip forward. Instead of gasps from the dedicated audience, it’s no big deal and players often get up quickly.

The Wheelhawks include about a dozen players from the Topeka and Lawrence area, and the team — which is currently ranked 17th in the nation by the National Wheelchair Basketball Association — compete in about one tournament a month during the winter season. This weekend’s tournament will continue Sunday at Holcom, 2700 W. 27th St., including an 11:30 a.m. exhibition game, where spectators will have a chance to try out the sport.

During the Wheelhawks 63-58 win against the Lincoln, Neb.-based Madonna Magic on Saturday, a fast break toward the end of the game displayed both the competitive nature of the sport and how tight-knit the Wheelhawks are.

Stirn raced down the court and flipped the ball to teammate Clayton Peters, who banked in an easy layup. Stirn, meanwhile, took one of those violent crashes to the floor. Peters immediately skirted over to Stirn, who grabbed the legs on Peters’ chair and boosted himself up so fast that it was clear they’ve done this many times before.

“It’s your team,” said Peters, whose second-half three-point shooting helped the Wheelhawks claw back. “You develop a close bond.”ᅦ

Comments

peterse 4 years, 6 months ago

No. 32 is Jim Kesler and not Clayton Peters. And the classification for NWBA players on a scale of 1 to 3 (not 1 to 5).

wmathews 4 years, 6 months ago

I have our reporter checking on this information so he can make any necessary changes to the story. Thanks for the info.

Whitney Mathews Assistant Community Editor for Online

shaunepec 4 years, 6 months ago

peterse, Appreciate the info. I've fixed it.

Shaun Hittle Reporter LJW

cato_the_elder 4 years, 6 months ago

To the writer of this story and all J-W editors: Many of us in Lawrence played baseball for Louie Holcom or against teams coached by him. Please learn how to spell his name. Since the Holcom Park Recreation Center is mentioned frequently in J-W articles, this happens all the time. I'm not the only one who is quite tired of seeing his name continually misspelled. At least the picture caption got it right.

wmathews 4 years, 6 months ago

Morning, cato. Thanks for catching that error. I fixed it in the story.

wildhawk7674 4 years, 6 months ago

cato_the_elder, Thank you for the correction. I did not know Louie Holcom, but I am very appreciative of the facility that was created in his name. I also thank Lawrence Parks and Rec for blocking out some time for the Kansas Wheelhawks to use the facility for a tournament every year.

bearded_gnome 4 years, 6 months ago

The Wheelhawks include about a dozen players from the Topeka and Lawrence area, and the team — which is currently ranked 17th in the nation by the National Wheelchair Basketball Association — compete in about one tournament a month during the winter season. This weekend’s tournament will continue Sunday at Holcom, 2700 W. 27th St., including an 11:30 a.m. exhibition game, where spectators will have a chance to try out the sport. During the Wheelhawks 63-58 win against the Lincoln, Neb.-based Madonna Magic on Saturday, a fast break toward the end of the game displayed both the competitive nature of the sport and how tight-knit the Wheelhawks are. Stirn raced down the court and flipped the ball to teammate Clayton Peters, who banked in an easy layup. Stirn, meanwhile, took one of those violent crashes

==very cool! thanks LJW for running this. this is indeed a very powerful sport.

and big kudos to the local team!

wildhawk7674 4 years, 6 months ago

bearded_gnome, Jarvis here. Thanks for the comment. I loved that play. That's what playing sports is all about.

I don't know where you saw that the Wheelhawks are ranked 17th, but we finished 13th last year and should currenlty be at that same ranking.

Thanks again and we are always looking for more fans.

wildhawk7674 4 years, 6 months ago

Check out the Kansas Wheelhawks website at www.kansasaccessiblesports.com. It needs to be updated, but you can always contact me at wildhawk@hotmail.com if you have any questions. Thanks to the Topeka Parks and Rec, the Wheelhawks and Jr Wheelhawks practice on Wednesday nights at Garfield Community Center in Topeka, KS from 6pm-9pm. If you know of a person with a disability in the eastern kansas or western missouri area, please let me know about them because we are always looking for new players.

Kansas Accessible Sports also supports wheelchair softball and wheelchair tennis in eastern kansas.

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