Aaron Gillen, junior exchange student, smiles as he moves the ball upcourt March 27, 2019 in the Student Receration and Wellness Center. The group is attempting to make wheelchair basketball into a club sport. Scott Fleener, DN
Disability awareness group at Ball State in process of making wheelchair basketball a club sport
Metal clattering isn’t a sound that people typically associate with basketball — but for those playing the adaptive sport wheelchair basketball, it’s just part of the game.
During the Wednesday-night games, players move across the court — maneuvering their wheelchairs to get an advantage over the other team. Some cross the court by nearly sprinting — guiding their wheelchairs by leaning in one direction. Others move slower and more deliberately — blocking others from moving up and slowing the other team’s attack.
Once one team has a chance to shoot the ball, the court erupts in shouts, with both teams communicating and the defending team trying to block the shot. Then the players dash to the opposite side of the court.
“I like the exercise — it’s a lot of fun,” said Cheyenne Durbin, junior accounting major. “I just love the people who come here.”
Players smile, joke and catch their breath at times.
“Wheelchair basketball is important to me because it allows a different spin on a sport that people with disabilities might not necessarily think they can partake in,” said Logan York, junior theater major.
Aaron Gillen, a junior exchange student, has played for wheelchair basketball teams in Ireland and England.
“It is obviously very competitive,” Gillen said. “You never really stop moving.”
Gillen said the sport allows for a range of inclusivity because one doesn't have to regularly use a wheelchair to play the game. Because of this, the Wednesday-night players want to bring it to more people and spread the word by making it into a club sport.
While it is currently held through the Ball State Disability Services Office, York said advertising it at the club fair could allow the sport to have a more campus-wide presence.
Alex Lekron, junior sports administration major, has participated in wheelchair basketball for 14 years and plays for a team in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
“It’s kind of indescribable once you get into it — how fun it is,” Lekron said.
He said wheelchair basketball is very physical.
“Just like able-bodied ball, there is a lot of beating and banging around,” Lekron said. “You get flipping over and getting back up — it’s intense.”
Matthew Leary, junior science education and biology major, said wheelchair basketball and other adapted sports are important because it’s “all about perspective.”
Everyone should try the sport because it’s because a “blast” said Payton Lewis, junior mathematics major.
“I’m very grateful, actually, to be able to try [the sport],” Lewis said. “It does kind of put it in perspective what it’s like to be in a wheelchair.”