Women’s Wheelchair

Story by WVUA 23’s Grace Campbell. 

Wheelchair basketball teams from across the country came to Tuscaloosa to compete in the two-day Bama by Distance Classic.

Friday night kicked off the tournament and it was also senior night for the reigning national champions. Emotions were high for the seniors as they competed in their last few home games.

Associate Director of Adapted Athletics Margaret Stran said it is a bitter sweet time for the athletes.

“It’s wonderful because you’re a senior, you’re finally graduating, but it’s sad because you’re graduating and this period of your life is over,” Stran said.

Arinn Young’s parents came all the way down from Canada to see their daughter’s senior night and are sad her time at UA is coming to an end.

“It’s gone by so fast, the five years, she’s grown so much as a person and Brent [Hardin] giving her the opportunity to come here and play is like a dream come true for her and for us,” Arinn’s mother Colleen Young said.

There can be misconceptions about wheelchair basketball.

“It’s not just the sit around kind of basketball,” said Ford Burttram, the head coach of the men’s wheelchair team. “It’s definitely very competitive, very high paced, it’s a lot of chair mechanics go into it, a lot of banging on each other, grinding. I think it’s a real interactive sort of sport.” 

People are encouraged to come and support UA’s Adapted Athletes because they could be someone’s role model.

“So often when you turn on the TV, if you use a wheel chair you don’t see people like you, so having this program allows kids to understand that not only can they be athletes, they can also be students and go to college and they can get degrees,” Stran said. “They can do all the things their able bodied peers can do.”

Seniors reminisced over their time at UA and are thankful for all they have accomplished.

“It’s a great feeling, I’ve come so far as an athlete and to see that come to fruition in this community and this environment has been a great, great achievement,” captain of men’s wheelchair basketball team Rashad Bennett said.

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