What’s in a name…?
It goes by multiple names such as Rugby, Quad Rugby, Wheelchair Rugby, or Muderball, I had my very first exposure to wheelchair rugby back in 2005. I was 20, freshly injured and at U of M doing inpatient rehab after diving into shallow water and crushing vertebrae in my neck; severing my spine, and becoming a C-5/6 Quadriplegic. Someone brought in a video for us to watch called Murderball. A documentary following players on the U.S. Wheelchair Rugby team and discussing their personal history from injury, to playing on the team, and life as a person with a disability.
For those of you that haven’t seen or heard of Quad Rugby, it looks chaotic. Eight people in funny looking, tank-like wheelchairs rolling around on a basketball court with a volleyball and bashing into each other. For the most part you aren’t wrong either. Whenever I describe it to somebody; I typically say that it is a mix of basketball and football rules, played in bumper cars, on a basketball court. It’s pretty fast paced and wild. Our one qualifying and universal characteristic is that each team member has some form of impairment in all of our four limbs. That is the one qualifier to becoming a Quad Rugby player, you must have an impairment in all four limbs of your body. The majority of the players are Quadriplegic’s typically varying from C4-C8 Spinal Cord Injuries. Although there are many other types that play, such as people with Cerebral Palsy, amputees, or other degenerative diseases.
I’ve been playing for almost two years now and have been able to take a few things away from my experiences so far. First is the great community of players from across the country, all welcoming and encouraging even during matches. Secondly, is the chance to compete again as part of a team. I didn’t know how much I missed competitive team sports, until I joined up and was able to actually play something again. I’ve known that I like to compete and win, but there only so many times that I can play Old Maid or the Match Game with my nieces and nephew before I want something a little more advanced. And Rugby has provided that opportunity. Lastly, my involvement allows the chance to be around people similar to me. People with disabilities of various levels and severity, but going for the same goal while also able to crash into anything along the way without worrying about breaking or damaging something. I’m sure any wheelchair user will share the same thought, it’s nice to not have to be careful and not bump into stuff, concerned about damaging or breaking it! Now, the challenge is just how hard can you hit someone and that is a welcome switch up. I’ve also learned travel tips, daily life hacks, or about new gear to use in daily life as a way of just being around other people that are in the same situations. All in all, this has been a great experience and I look forward to seeing what else will develop in this new world I’m venturing into. #Awareness