An Introduction to Wheelchair Rugby and Team USA
Wheelchair Rugby, originally known as “murderball” because of its intense physical nature, was invented in 1977 by a group of Canadian athletes with quadriplegia looking for a sport that would allow players with reduced arm and hand function to participate equally.
The sport is now practiced in over 25 countries around the world. In the Sydney 2000 Games, wheelchair rugby became a medal sport, where the United States won the gold. Since then, Team USA won a second gold in 2008 to go along with two bronze medals in the 2004 and 2012 Paralympic Games.
After a win at the Canada Cup this June, the team heads to Rio at the top of the leaderboard in International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) World Rankings. You can meet the team and learn more about the sport at usawr.org.
Lakeshore Foundation and USA Wheelchair Rugby
In the Lakeshore’s Fieldhouse, you might be lucky enough to see the high intensity and excitement of a wheelchair rugby game in person. This is where Team USA comes to train and prepare for competitions like the upcoming Rio Paralympic Games.
Lakeshore Foundation, a U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Site, serves as the High Performance Management Organization for USA Wheelchair Rugby.
We sat down with team coach James Gumbert, who has been head coach since 2005, to talk about his preparation for the 2016 Games and the partnership between Lakeshore and USAWR.
“Without a doubt, Lakeshore is a critical success factor for us. It is a home away from home,” said Coach Gumbert. Along with the amazing facilities at Lakeshore, Gumbert credits the people for helping the team get to where it is today. “It’s the people that have made the difference. When we come through the doors, we’re family.”
Lakeshore is proud to be a part of the Team USA family. As Gumbert puts it, “when we lace up our shoes and put on our jerseys, we’re carrying Lakeshore with us. Without Lakeshore, we wouldn’t be in Rio.”
Support USA Wheelchair Rugby and Lakeshore Foundation
There are a number of different ways that you can support USA Wheelchair Rugby. Gumbert told us that it’s “staggering how much of a difference even a little bit of support will make for the team. It’s not just about winning, its about changing people’s lives.”
Watch: The team kicks off competition on Sep. 14 at 10:45 a.m. CT against France. With expanded TV coverage, you can watch the team on NBCSN and online at teamusa.org. Check out the schedule and cheer the team on through social media. #lakeshoretorio