Meet Chuck Melton
The 2016 USA wheelchair rugby team entered the Rio 2016 Paralympics ranked #1 by the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF). One of the main reasons for their success is the combination of experienced veterans with new talent like Chuck Melton. Melton is competing in his first Paralympics this year and we spoke with him about the 2016 Games, his playing career and the impact wheelchair rugby has had on his life.
In August of 2002, Melton acquired a C7 spinal cord injury from a diving accident. After the accident, he attended rehab in St. Louis where he met Sam Bell, who played for the St. Louis Rugby Rams. Sam invited Melton to check out the wheelchair rugby team.
However, with a new disability, two young children and a third on the way, Melton needed time to adjust to his new life. It wasn’t until 2008 that he attended his first practice. After gaining a few years of experience, Melton received a call in 2011 that the U.S. team had open spots, and he was encouraged to try out. During the tryouts, Melton realized how much more work and training it would take to get on the team. “It was a big eye opener. I was one of the slower, bigger players, but it made me realize what it would take to get to my goal.”
Chuck Melton’s Path to Rio
From that day forward, Melton decided to transform his mentality, strength and ambition. He knew he had to focus and work hard if he wanted to make the team. Melton began an intense training regimen that includes working out twice a day, 6 days a week – a schedule he maintains today. As he puts it, “I’ve been working my tail off ever since.” Melton’s healthy lifestyle has extended to his entire family, including his wife of 19 years and three children ages 16, 15 and 13. “It’s been really awesome to see what it’s done for my family,” he told us.
The results have been impressive. Melton has lost over 130 pounds and now, he is a U.S. Paralympian. Melton describes his selection to the USA Wheelchair Rugby (USAWR) Team as “an overwhelming experience. I wanted to smile, laugh and cry at the same time. Other than the birth of my children, it was the biggest moment of my life.”
Melton is excited and thrilled to head to his first Paralympics. “Its what I’ve dreamed of,” he told us, “representing my country to the best of my ability.”
Don’t Give Up
Melton credits wheelchair rugby with having a profound impact on his attitude and perspective toward life. He describes how his teammates have given him invaluable support over the years, and his healthy lifestyle has made him who he is today. Melton ended our conversation with advice to others who might be interested in wheelchair rugby: “Keep coming back. There will be more failures than success. You’re gonna get frustrated and be upset. Don’t give up.”
There are a few different ways can support Chuck and the rest of the team:
Watch: The team competes at the Rio Paralympics September 14-18. With expanded TV and online coverage, you can watch the team on NBCSN and at teamusa.org. Check out the USAWR schedule here and view the Team USA watch guide for information on how to catch the action. Follow Lakeshore and USAWR on social media, and cheer the team on using #lakeshoretorio.
Donate: To make a donation, go to usawr.org.