One of the oldest team sports in North America is growing in popularity among wheelchair athletes
With the growing popularity of lacrosse within the past few years, it’s odd that its presence seems to be lacking in the world of adaptive sports. That’s something Ryan Baker, founder of the non-profit organization Wheelchair Lacrosse USA, is striving to change.
Baker, having participated in team sports throughout his childhood, took interest in lacrosse because it didn’t seem to be an option for wheelchair athletes. He thought there should be more choices for athletes in wheelchairs.
“Our goal is to create the opportunity and give these guys a chance to try something different,” says Baker.
Wheelchair Lacrosse USA works with other non-profit organizations in different cities that already have access to athletes in wheelchairs, equipment and venues to host camps in hopes of creating teams. Four teams have been established from such camps in Denver, San Diego, Atlanta and Richmond.
Anyone interested is welcome to participate in the camps, according to Baker. Guys who have been training for years come out, as well as guys who have never played before. It’s not difficult to learn, the rules for the adaptive version of the sport are virtually the same as the able-bodied version. It’s also relatively inexpensive to play; all you need is a stick, a helmet and some padding. The same wheelchairs used in wheelchair basketball are used for wheelchair lacrosse.
Baker and co-founder Bill Lundstrom hope to create a national league with a season, tournaments, different conferences and a national championship – just like already-established adaptive sports such as basketball and rugby. They hope to have 20 teams in the next three years, according to Baker, and a team in every major city.
Having recently attended the US Lacrosse National Convention in Philadelphia, Baker and Lundstrom had the opportunity to continue getting word out about Wheelchair Lacrosse USA.
“The able-bodied lacrosse community is incredibly supportive of what we’re doing,” says Baker. Between the able-bodied lacrosse community and the tight-knit adaptive sporting community, word-of-mouth will more than likely be a successful way for Wheelchair Lacrosse USA to flourish.
The take-home message from the guys behind Wheelchair Lacrosse USA is simply this: Everyone should be doing something. “It’s not going to be for everybody,” says Baker. “As long as people are doing something, that’s really what we want.”
For more information about Wheelchair Lacrosse USA, visit http://www.wheelchairlacrosse.com/
Wheelchair Lacrosse USA's Ryan Baker discusses the finer points of wheelchair lacrosse.