Tagged with: athletes disabilities life sports wheelchair
With the US National team playing at the American Zonals at Lakeshore this weekend it made me reflect on the 7 years of my life that I was part of the US Rugby Program. What always first comes to mind about those days were the life-long friendships that I have developed over the years of playing. These friendships are life sustaining for one reason, a shared commitment.
I first started playing rugby in 1995 I had no idea what type of world that I entered. All I knew is that I discovered a wheelchair sport that I could play and excel. Our team had immediate success, which placed me on the United States Quad Rugby Association (USQRA) scene as well as the US National Team radar. However, it wouldn’t be until 1998 that I had my first taste of what it takes to be on the US National Team. I had tried out for the 1998 US World Championship Team in which I was completely overmatched and knew that I needed to improve my game if I was to make a US team.
Fortunately, the US Team decided to put together a developmental team that went to New Zealand to compete at the 1999 World Wheelchair Games where we won first place. It was after that I was invited to the Paralympic tryouts in 2000. I went to the last day and was one of the last few athletes cut from the roster. It has so hard to handle, but I vowed that I would not be cut again.
Finally, in 2001, I was selected to the US High Performance Training Program (HPTP) and this would lead to selections to the World Championship Team in 2002 and the Paralympic Team in 2004. It was over this time that I bonded with the same group of athletes that were with me in 1998. We all went through the same hardships together. We realized that the fruition of our hard work and commitment was completed when we were selected.
I would go on to earn another spot on the 2006 World Championship Team unfortunately I had to relinquish this position due to work conflicts. However, never again did I get cut from a US team. Most importantly, my life-long friends of Steve, Sammy, Bryan, Andy, Mark, Norm, Wayne, Brent, Scott, Lynn, Brent, and Cliff would be maintained forever. We will always share in the common journey as a wheelchair rugby athletes on the US Team. We shared those long hours of blood, sweat, and tears on rugby courts all over the world. Thankfully, we would be successful in winning medals for Team USA but most importantly we would share in the knowledge that we were committed to each other and to team USA. This is truly a once in a lifetime experience that not that many people get to have. How fortunate that I was to be a part of this team and to this group of people. The question I am always asked now is if I miss it? Maybe a little. Hey, who wouldn’t miss the opportunity to make life long friends. What are your favorite memories on being part of a team sport?
For more information on US rugby checkout the USQRA website: