by Jess Venlet
I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived at Jenison High School to watch wheelchair basketball for the first time. I thought that the game would be pretty laid back.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The games were intense, and the players competitive. I realized my mistake quickly. I had been expecting a disabled version of basketball played by young people in wheelchairs. But what I found in that gym were athletes who thrive on competition, and love living an active lifestyle.
The tournament was the last of the Pacer’s regular season — the Midwest Conference Championship. After close final games, both the prep and varsity Jr. Pacer teams took first place in the Midwest conference. I was lucky enough to chat for a few minutes with two members of the GR Jr. Pacers varsity team.
Tory Crosby began playing six years ago after he attended the wheelchair sports camp held every summer at Grand Valley State University. He tried several adaptive sports, but found basketball to be his favorite.
The best part of playing? For Tory it’s about meeting new people, and competing to win games and tournaments. After he graduates from Vestaburg High School in 2011, he hopes to go to college in Alabama.
Tory’s MFB experience: When he was young, Tory received physical therapy at MFB, and met his best friend, Susie Kluting, here. Susie is a member of the Grand Rapids SledWings hockey team.
Jill Host is a leader on the Jr. Pacers team. A winner of various tournament awards for sportsmanship and skill, Jill takes basketball seriously. She began playing when she was eight years old and hasn’t stopped playing and practicing since. The Jr. Pacers practice one night a week throughout their season, but Jill makes sure to practice daily. Like Tory, Jill enjoys the competiveness of the game.
After graduation from Coopersville High School next year, Jill plans to go to college at either Alabama University or Wisconsin University.
Jill’s MFB Experience: Jill attended therapy sessions until she was 12 years old. According to Jill, no kid likes needing therapy, but she had a good experience at Mary Free Bed.
For information on rules of wheelchair basketball visit Mobility-Advisor.com. For specific rules for your region and age level, contact your local wheelchair basketball team.