Fifteen teams from across the Midwest will display their skills Saturday, Jan. 18, in a wheelchair basketball tournament hosted by the Northeast DuPage Special Recreation Association's Junior Bulls.
The tourney will tip off at 9 a.m. in the Addison Trail High School gym, 213 N. Lombard Road, Addison, and include teams such as the Milwaukee Heat, Grand Rapids Pacers, Rockford Chariots and Peoria Wildcats. Organizers say five of the top 32 ranked teams in the nation will participate.
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If you goWhat: Wheelchair basketball tournament
When: 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 18
Where: Addison Trail High School, 213 N. Lombard Road, Addison
Details: Features 15 teams from across the Midwest
Info: (630) 576-4037 or nedsra.org
Admission is free. The event includes concessions, a tennis ball toss raffle, and silent raffles designed to raise money for the Junior Bulls. Proceeds will help offset the team's costs to travel to the National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament April 3 in Louisville, Ky. Last year's Junior Bulls ranked 11th in the country.
"We had better-than-expected results at the national tourney and we hope to continue to improve with the addition of more players," coach Adam Kramer said.
NEDSRA manages two junior-level teams. The preparatory team, for ages 12 and younger, plays on an 8½-foot high basket and uses a smaller ball. The JV team, for ages 13 to 21, plays with regulation size basketballs and baskets.
Nearly all of the rules are identical to NCAA regulations, with a few exceptions. The most significant rule is that you must dribble the ball after touching your chair wheels twice. Chairs are expected to make contact, however, no recklessness or holding wheelchairs is permitted.
NEDSRA has sport chairs available for beginning players.
Opportunities to play after high school continue to expand as the popularity of wheelchair basketball grows. Midwestern universities such as Illinois, Wisconsin-Whitewater, Missouri and Southwest Minnesota have men's wheelchair basketball programs and some have women's teams.
"Collegiate programs are recruiting players to play wheelchair basketball," Kramer said.
Ryan Glatchak, a 14-year-old Addison resident, has been playing with the Junior Bulls for two years.
"My biggest thrill was going to the national tournament last year," Glatchak said, adding that he wants to continue to play after high school. "Yes, I would like to continue playing basketball and having fun. I have already been talking with the adult Wheelchair Bulls."
Along with the Bulls, other local teams are the Chicago Cruisers and the Chicago Fire. The Fire is associated with the Midwest Wheelchair Sports and Social Club. The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago offers men a chance to play with the RIC Hornets team.
Women can play with the RIC Sky, an affiliate with the Chicago Sky women's professional basketball team.
The National Wheelchair Basketball Association also organizes teams and tournaments through its website, nwba.org.
For details about the tournament, contact Coach Kramer at (630) 576-4037 or stop at the NEDSRA office in Addison.