Wallbangers wheelchair basketball practices return to Grand Forks

NDAD’s Wallbangers wheelchair basketball program practices have returned to Grand Forks after years of practices held in Crookston, Minn., nearly a half hour’s drive to the southeast.

NDAD is now holding its Sunday Wallbangers practices at St. Mary’s Elementary School, 216 Belmont Road, near the southern edge of downtown Grand Forks. The gymnasium is attached to St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

For a number of years, the Wallbangers used Crookston’s Highland Middle School gymnasium facility. “They were very good to us — very, very good to us – for letting us use that gym. We’re appreciative,” said Wallbangers manager Terry Olmstead said.

Before that, the old Crookston High School was used, he said. Back in the ‘90s, the Wallbangers used the gymnasium at what is now Valley Middle School, he said.

The Wallbangers practices in Grand Forks are at 4 p.m. Sundays. The practices are for teens and adults.

Both wheelchair and non-wheelchair users are welcome to participate in Wallbangers basketball practices, which include skills sessions and scrimmages, Olmstead said. NDAD provides manual wheelchairs for participants who lack them.

A person with a disability younger than 14 could qualify to play upon certification by a qualified therapist, Olmstead said.

Younger children otherwise are welcome to come and watch practices, but they will not be allowed to participate. If you bring these children, you must provide separate supervision for them, for safety reasons, according to NDAD.

The Wallbangers were founded in 1972 by a group of players with disabilities at the University of North Dakota and elsewhere in the Grand Forks area. Its purpose then and now is to provide recreation and competitive physical activities for people.

When the team played in sanctioned competition, players were classified according to the degrees of their disabilities.

The Wallbangers continue to participate in exhibition wheelchair basketball games and fundraisers to raise awareness of the sport.

For more information about Wallbangers wheelchair basketball, contact Olmstead at (701) 741-1307 or tolmstead@ndad.org.

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