Wheelchair Basketball Players to Get Their Shot at IHSA Tourney
Byline: Ron Skrabacz
An old saying reminds us that a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.
Cindy Schmidt, coach of the Windy City Warriors wheelchair basketball team, and the Illinois High School Association have taken that first step toward making the sport a part of the IHSA athletic programs.
On March 9, 10 wheelchair basketball teams will compete in a varsity and junior varsity tournament at the Peoria Exposition Center in their own version of March Madness. What makes this tournament unique is that the IHSA is lending its name to the tournament in the same building where the Illinois Class A basketball tournament is taking place.
"The IHSA thought it would be great to give us court time during the finals game on Saturday," Schmidt said. "So we have two courts reserved for the wheelchair basketball tournament."
The varsity division pits the Mad City Bombers from Madison, Wis., against the RIC/Spalding Bulldogs, representing the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Spalding High School. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Rolling Rams go up against the Junior Bulls of Addison.
The winners of those two games then face either the Indiana Rolling Rebels, representing Chicagoland Area Wheelchair Sports, or the Windy City Warriors from the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association. Both teams have byes in the first round.
The junior varsity tournament has the Chariots JV from Rockford going up against the Spokebenders from the North West Special Recreation Association. Also, the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Wave will face the Windy City Warriors JV squad.
In this first IHSA-sanctioned wheelchair basketball tournament, the goal is as much to give the teams and players exposure as to determine a state champion. Catching the eye of IHSA officials, as well as the general public, is a crucial element in long-term success, Schmidt said.
"This will bring about 100 athletes to Peoria. There are about 30 committee members with the IHSA present. …