Replacing legs with wheels, players and students took to the court at NKU’s Rec Center in a different fashion, putting an interesting twist on the ordinary game of basketball.
Students and other members of the NKU community came together Monday night to watch and participate in the university’s first annual wheelchair basketball event.
Jeremy Chipman, assistant director of intramural sports, said he got the idea for the event several years ago when he attended a national conference for campus recreation faculty members at Wright State University.
When Chipman returned to NKU, he and his graduate assistant Jeremy Moore started to contact people to see how they could get the program started.
They reached out to Cindy Jacobelli, director of adaptive recreation at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital in Lexington and head coach of Cardinal Hill’s team, Hill on Wheels.
Jacobelli said they chose to come all the way from Lexington to help bring attention of the sport to the Northern Kentucky area. Even though the team is based out of Lexington, there are some members that practice outside of that area.
The team also came to increase college students’ awareness about people in wheelchairs and just how able-bodied they are.
“What we find the most is that people just don’t understand and they’re scared,” Jacobelli said. “Everything is the same [about these people], except instead of legs, they have wheels.”
Charles Coon, center for Hill on Wheels, has been around wheelchair basketball his entire life. His father returned from the Vietnam War an amputee and started playing the sport, which has been around since amputee veterans started returning from World War II and “just wanted to get back into life and athletics,” according to Jacobelli.
Coon, who is not bound to a wheelchair himself, has been playing for 14 years. He was with Hill on Wheels when they won the Division III National Wheelchair Basketball Association national championship in 2008.
“We’re practicing two to three days per week, with four to five hours of practice,” Coon said, commending the team on the hard work they put in.
Coon said that everyone on the team inspires him to be a better person. “Anybody can wake up and say, ‘Oh, I don’t feel good today,’” he said. “They wake up and say, ‘Huh. I can’t walk today,’ and they go out and achieve anyway.”
For more information about Hill on Wheels and about the sport of wheelchair basketball, visit Cardinal Hill’s website, http://www.cardinalhill.org/services/athletics-recreation/hill-on-wheels.