Sixteen year-old Rose Hollermann of Elysian, Minnesota will play for the United States women’s wheelchair basketball team in the 2012 Paralympic Games held in London. She is the youngest person ever to play for the team and she hopes to participate in many more Paralympic Games. A car accident when she was five years old left her with a spinal cord injury, but Hollermann didn’t let that stop her from becoming an athlete. In addition to playing in wheelchair basketball tournaments nationwide, she also uses her wheelchair to compete in high school track events.
The Paralympic Games are held every four years in the same city that hosts the Olympic Games and just two weeks after the closing of the Olympics. There are twenty sports in the Summer Paralympics and five in the Winter Paralympics. The Paralympic Games are now one of the largest international sporting events and attracts thousands of athletes from around the world.
All About Wheelchair Basketball:
The first forms of wheelchair basketball were played in the early 1940s. Wheelchair basketball began as one of a series of sports adapted for wheelchairs and was originally called wheelchair netball. The first wheelchair basketball games in the United States were played between veterans of World War II.
Today, wheelchair basketball is played according to international basketball regulations and games take place on a standard-sized basketball court. The challenge of wheelchair basketball is especially great since the height of the basketball hoop – ten feet high – is exactly the same as in conventional basketball games. Wheelchair basketball players use wheelchairs specially designed for the sport and the wheelchair is considered an extension of the athlete’s body. Although the rules of wheelchair basketball are the same as for conventional basketball, they have been adapted for wheelchair athletes; for instance, a player is considered to be “traveling” (a foul) if he or she touches the wheels more than twice after receiving or dribbling the ball.
As a Paralympic Games sport, there is major competition and interest in wheelchair basketball on the international level. Wheelchair leagues in Europe attract large crowds. In the United States, the National Wheelchair Basketball Association estimates that over 100,000 men, women, and children participate in this sport, ranging from recreational play to serious conference competition.
The Wallbangers, Sponsored by NDAD:
The Wallbangers, a wheelchair basketball organization sponsored by NDAD, was founded in 1972. The Wallbangers joined the National Wheelchair Basketball Association in 1979 as a member of the North Central Conference. In competitive conference play, players must be classified according to degree of disability to be eligible to play. The Wallbangers participate in exhibition wheelchair basketball games to raise awareness of the sport. The team also conducts presentations at local schools to raise awareness about people with disabilities. Often, this includes an event where kids can try their hand at wheelchair basketball. Anyone is encouraged to practice with the team regardless of disability. If you or someone you know is interested in joining the Wallbangers, call NDAD at 701-775-5577 or 1-800-532-NDAD (6323).