Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Wheelchair basketball at Cuyamaca College Oct. 30

Eye-opening as it is exciting, the 16th annual Cuyamaca College Wheelchair Basketball Game is set for noon-1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, at the Cuyamaca College gym as part of the college’s annual commemoration of National Disability Awareness Month.

The public is invited to watch and even join in the free game at 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway in Rancho San Diego.

An event where members of the college’s men’s basketball team quickly learn they are at a disadvantage playing against some of the most seasoned wheelchair competitors in the county, the game provides a new awareness to students and others of what dedicated athletes with disabilities can accomplish. And then, there’s the sheer fun of the game, where the sound of squeaking rubber isn’t from the soles of Air Jordans, but from low-to-the-ground, custom-built wheelchairs pivoting and spinning across the gym floor.

The five-on-five games feature a mix of Cuyamaca’s shooters playing alongside athletes who compete on local teams in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association. Several of the wheelchair athletes – most of whom have suffered spinal cord injuries – have returned year after year to play in the popular Cuyamaca event.

As novices shooting and traversing the court from an unfamiliar vantage point, the Cuyamaca basketball players have been known to take a tumble or two from the lightweight chairs, specially designed for speed and maneuverability

The teams for Cuyamaca’s game are mixed with players from both sides, as well as anyone who wants to join in, so that the wheelchair league athletes don’t completely dominate the scoreboard, said Mary Asher-Fitzpatrick, a learning disabilities specialist at the college who has coordinated the game from the beginning, along with Rob Wojkowski, Cuyamaca College Men’s Basketball coach.

A resource fair in the gym foyer will precede the game from 11:30 a.m. to noon, where attendees can learn about various community disability resource agencies, as well as enjoy free snacks at the booths and take part in prize drawings.

The event is sponsored by Cuyamaca College’s Associated Student Government, the Disabled Students Programs and Services Department, athletics, Club ABLED and the Cuyamaca College Learning Resource Center.

To play in the game, sign up at the information booth outside the gym from 11:30-11:45 a.m.