RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Central Virginia’s only youth wheelchair basketball team left for Louisville, Kentucky, on Wednesday to compete in the National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament.
This is the first time the Sportable Spokes will be making an appearance in the premiere event for wheelchair basketball in the U.S., playing among 32 of the top teams in the country.
“These kids deserve it because they’ve been working their tails off this season,” said Spokes Coach Cole Sydnor. The Spokes are ranked 26th in the nation and have traveled to Baltimore, Philadelphia, Northern Virginia, and North Carolina to compete in tournaments for the 2014-2015 season
Spokes player Colin Egan said he is excited to play in at Nationals. “It’ll be just a whole new experience for me to see how I play against some of the elite players,” Egan said. The 17-year-old was born with spina bifida, meaning he’s missing a part of his spine. He uses a wheelchair to get around. During physical therapy, someone suggested he try playing basketball and he fell in love with it.
“It was a little hard to dribble and push all at the same time,” Colin remembered about his early playing days. Now, he’s been playing with the Spokes for about four years. “It means a lot just to go out there and feel like you’re doing something that other people can do, just modified.”
Colin and seven of his teammates have to win four consecutive games in Louisville to win the championship in the junior division of the National Invitational Tournament. Coach Sydnor believes his team can go all the way. “I tell these kids you got to work hard. If you want to win, you have to work hard and you have to want it.”
The Spokes basketball program started in 2006 at Sportable, an organization that helps people with physical disabilities and visual impairments lead an active lifestyle. It has grown from a team with just two youth athletes to more than 12.
The Spokes play their first Nationals game on Thursday morning with the championship game on Saturday.
8News will keep you updated on their progress.