What to Do
Find a Deal
Add an Event
Submit News
Promote my Business

Heated competition among wheelchair rugby teams

Members of the Akron Rhinos, Adam Sweeney (65, co-captain) and​ Austin Trzop (​4) play defense, having an opponent "picked" so he can't move.​


The Akron Rhinos are one of two competitive wheelchair rugby teams in Ohio. The sport was originally developed in Canada for quadriplegic athletes and is played indoors. Originally it was called "murderball." Yes, it's just a little bit intense.
Players in specially designed wheelchairs attempt to score points by carrying a ball across the opposing goal line. At least once every 10 seconds, the ball has to be passed or bounced between teammates.
Interested in giving it a whirl? Think you've got what it takes to beat the Rhinos? Adaptive Sports Program of Ohio and the University of Akron Wayne College have joined forces to host a fundraiser on Saturday, Nov. 18.
In this first annual pay-to-play event, teams of four to five people (over 14) are invited to join in the fun and raise money to help cover costs for the Akron Rhinos travel to play out-of-state teams.
"The Rhinos are looking forward to playing some friendly competition," said Dilshani Madawala, coach/program manager with ASPO. "The team travels to different states for tournaments once a month. These funds will be used to cover registration fees, travel costs and hotel costs."
After learning to play wheelchair rugby in a crash course given by the Rhinos, teams will have 30 minutes to try and beat the team. No experience or equipment is needed, and everyone will receive a T-shirt.
Based in Dalton, the ASPO is a nonprofit designed to promote the health and well-being of individuals with physical disabilities throughout Ohio. Offering competitive and recreational adaptive-sport opportunities, the nonprofit also has partnered with the U.S. Olympic Committee to launch Paralympic Sport Ohio.
Rhinos team captain Michael Baney has been playing with the team for three years. "Playing for the Rhinos means a lot," Baney said. "It makes me feel good about myself that I can play a sport again. Being part of a team among [people] who have the same or similar disability and who go through the same struggles and physical problems gives you a special bond."
Baney, who was injured in a car accident in 2008, was originally paralyzed from the neck down. After extensive therapy he regained some ability to walk. The single father works part time for his family's business.
"I live a normal life with the struggles of quadriplegia," he said.
Of the sport itself, Baney said, "Most people have never heard of wheelchair rugby. It's a fast-paced, brutal game, very exciting to watch. It will also show that despite our disabilities, we are able to play competitive sports and have a normal life."
Madawala said, "The players love the sport and look forward to practice every week. These guys are such an inspiration as they don't let their disability stop them from living life to the fullest."
Wheelchair rugby with the Akron Rhinos will take place on Saturday, Nov. 18 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the University of Akron Wayne College, 1901 Smucker Road, Orrville. Cost is $100 per team and all equipment is provided.
"We are able to accommodate 16 teams and would like to see all these spots filled," Madawala said. "We are also looking for sponsors for the event to help with this fundraiser."
For more information and to sign up, go to Wheelchair Rugby with the Akron Rhinos on Facebook at www.facebook.com/events/1927031160918665 or www.runsignup.com/Race/OH/Orrville/UAWayneCollegeWheelchairRugbyPaytoPlay. (Minor participants need to fill out a minor liability form.)
For more information about ASPO, find them on Facebook or online at www.adaptivesportsohio.org.
Any businesses or individuals interested in sponsoring the event may call Lisa Followay at 330-985-0085 or email director@adaptivesportsohio.org.
For more information about the event or ASPO, email Madawala at dilshani.madawala@adaptivesportsohio.org.

Published: October 31, 2017
New Article ID: 2017171029973