Rolling at the Dee

Simote Lokotui

Weber State University hosted the National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament for the West Coast Conference on Feb. 19 and 20.

Rush players Gavin Peterson (30) and Riley Porter (5) go head to head against Rancho Halo players Alessandro Pintor (25) and Michelle Bautista (35).
Rush players Gavin Peterson (30) and Riley Porter (5) go head to head against Rancho Halo players Alessandro Pintor (25) and Michelle Bautista (35).

The Utah Rush coordinated this year’s tournament, which included eight teams from across the western United States. Winners will go to a national competition in Wichita, Kansas.

Currently Utah’s only team in the junior varsity division of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association, the Rush includes athletes from across northern Utah.

According to the National Wheelchair Basketball Association, the league is the world’s oldest and largest disabled sports organization. Created in 1946 by World War Ⅱ veterans, it originated out of the veterans administration hospitals in California and Massachusetts.

Rancho Halo's Dylan Rodriguez and Utah Rush's Michelle McConnell do a ball jump to determine which team starts with the ball. (Summer Muster/The Signpost)

Within two years, teams were created all across the U.S. and the National Wheelchair Basketball Association was founded. As of now, there are over 200 participating teams.

Wheelchair basketball is played by individuals with varying physical disabilities and includes participants of many ages.

In wheelchair basketball, the wheelchair is part of the body, so any illegal contact to it is a foul. This includes lifting body parts that aren’t one’s arms in the process of taking a shot. Failure to follow this rule can result in a technical foul.

Another rule that’s been customized for the game is traveling. In wheelchair basketball, it’s defined as when an athlete makes contact with their wheels more than twice in the process of receiving or dribbling the ball.

The game has four 10-minute quarters and is played on a regular-sized basketball court.

Halo Rancho player Michelle Bautista marks up Utah Rush opponent Gavin Peterson. (Summer Muster/The Signpost)

According to the National Wheelchair Basketball Association, there are teams in 42 states and over 3,000 players. With a six-month season that starts in April, the league also holds competitions in Puerto Rico, Quebec and Ontario. There is even a National Wheelchair Basketball Association hall of fame.

“Wheelchair basketball has given me an opportunity to get my master’s,” wheelchair basketball player David Evjen said. “It has given me an opportunity to play for the Colombian national team and still enjoy the sport I love even though I suffer from nerve damage.”