Wheelchair athletes try out Hoopfest

Wheelchair athletes try out Hoopfest

Hoopfest takes a lot of quick moves, high jumps and shooting skills, but the Razor Rollers show that sometimes all it takes is teamwork.

The wheelchair athletes from St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Center can give anyone at Hoopfest a run for their money. The inspiring team is made up of kids of all ages and abilities. For some, it’s their first Hoopfest.

The game is played slightly different, but it’s just as challenging. The kids have to dribble, pass and shoot all the wile alternating arms to wheel across the court.

Because there weren’t enough kids to fill a bracket in the wheelchair category, some siblings of disabled children got into wheelchairs in order to qualify for Hoopfest.

Zach Wells has the use of his legs, but his brother doesn’t. He’s been practicing to learn the new skills needed to play basketball in a wheelchair – but says he isn’t going to go easy on his brother.

“It’s weird because you can’t jump up like when you’re standing, so you have to really try,” Wells said.

KXLY has worked with Mickey Lucas before, when he had a high-kick marathon to raise money for new prosthetic running legs. It’s his first Hoopfest and he’s only been practicing since February. His parents say participating in wheelchair basketball has given him a new confidence and great social skills.

Lucas’ coach, volunteer Leann Anzalone, loves watching each player grow.

“It’s so much more than sports, it’s life skills and social skills and independence and the idea that this could lead to college scholarships,” Anzalone said.

Or perhaps a gold medal? Anzalone says five of the St. Luke’s athletes are competing in the Paralympics right now.

St. Luke’s wants to encourage anyone in a wheelchair to come out for the basketball team. They need younger kids and especially girls to keep growing their team.