WEEKLY WORKOUT: Sonya and Erin sink shots with disabled Iowans in a competitive game of wheelchair basketball

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Sports and recreation opportunities for disabled people in Iowa have been few and far between.  We want to let you know about a group creating more opportunities so we’re teaming up with Adaptive Sports Iowa for the month of November.

It’s fun and fierce.  Using a wheelchair while playing basketball isn’t slowing down these athletes one bit.

“We like to say there are wheelchair users and shoe users,” says Mike Boone, the Director of Adaptive Sports Iowa.  “But we’re all on the same playing field.”

For us it means being off our feet and out of our comfort zones.

“Go ahead and take a seat,” says Mike as he motions toward a wheelchair.

Mike and John Litzkow have lots of pointers, but there’s really no way to prepare us for wheelchair basketball.  Drills are first.  We work on speed, agility and ball handling.  It’s simple for the regulars, ugly for us.  And we haven’t even started playing yet.

“Think of it this way,” says Mike.  “Your wheelchair is an extension of your body.  So, you can’t hit anyone when they’re in the process of making a shot.  That would be a foul.”

Once the game gets going, things get really interesting.  We’re still learning a lot of the rules and our shooting skills leave a lot to be desired.

“You really get a good sense of what life is like living in a chair,” says Mike.  You’re using muscles your body has probably never used before and ways they’ve never been used before.”

The workout is tough, even before the pros get serious.

“It’s competitive but it’s also a lot of fun,” says Mike, as several wheelchairs became tangled together.  “Where else can these guys go play basketball?”

As the guys sink shot after shot, something else is happening on the court.

“After a while you don’t look at them as someone with a disability.  They’re just people out having a good time and that’s what’s at the core of Adaptive Sports Iowa.  That’s what we’re trying to do,” says Mike.  “Anything that we do, there’s an adaptive version of it.  No matter the disability there is a way to adapt to do that activity.”

Adaptive Sports Iowa is trying to create a network of people and programs to serve the entire state.  That network is growing, and helping people with and without disabilities shatter stereotypes and overcome challenges.

“These are people who’ve dealt with a lot of different obstacles and overcome a lot of barriers in their life,” says Mike as the players “high-five” on another.

You can see it in their attitudes and their personalities, and it’s infectious.

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