Students and community members race around the court alongside USM’s wheelchair basketball team during Saturday’s event put on by the Step Up Council for the Institute for Disability Studies. -Michael Kavitz
On April 11, students at The University of Southern Mississippi had the opportunity to participate in drills and scrimmages with the Golden Eagles Wheelchair Basketball Team.
The Golden Eagles Wheelchair Basketball Team is open to men and women of all ages who have any form of disability that prevents them from playing stand-up basketball. The team has had much success over the past few years, winning several conference championships and competing nationally.
In 2015, the team placed second in its conference, but opted to not compete in nationals due to the youth of the team.
Saturday’s event aimed to promote the team based out of the Southern Miss Gulf Park campus, and to give students at the Hattiesburg campus a feel of what playing wheelchair basketball is like.
“Today’s event meant was to get students out here engaged in what we do, to let them see what we do and let them see how fun and hard it is to do,” said Kevin Galloway, a Golden Eagle Wheelchair basketball player who is also a recreational therapist assistant at the USM Gulf Park campus.
“Most people don’t know really how much fun it is to watch or how intense it is to play.”
The event was put on by the Gulf Park Institute of Disability Studies, Life of Mississippi and the Student Association of Social Work, along with volunteers from various other student groups.
“At The University of Southern Mississippi Institute of Disability Studies on the Gulf Park campus, we just had two more recreational therapist come on board,” said Jerry Alliston, a professor of the Institute for Disability Studies Coordinator. “So, we’re starting to do a lot more theraputic recreation events.”
Wheelchair basketball is not the only sport that is offered by the Institute for Disability Studies. The institute offers a program that allows people with disabilities to participate in adventure sports.
“As a rec therapist, I work with different programs that are funded by grants,” said Tyler Edwards, an IDS Recreational Therapist.
“Our main one is Project Gauge, and that is wheelchair basketball. We also have one called Project Stick and it’s more adventure therapy. With that we do ropes courses, kayaking and high ropes. We just try to include everybody, especially people with disabilities.”
In addition to these sports that the institute offers, the Institute for Disabilities’ wheelchair softball team, the Deep South Hurricanes, will be the host of the 2015 World Series of Wheelchair Softball this August at the Biloxi Coliseum.
The event will include teams from around the world to compete for the world title of wheelchair softball.