Wheelchair Basketball Was a Slam Dunk

Student Led Event Bringing People Together for Great Cause

By: Philip Sanzone

The event coordinated by students Lucia Rossi and Samantha Wong was a success. Photo Credit: Philip Sanzone

Sports have been an activity that people bond over negatively or positively, or even conditionally. Putting that in perspective, the Wheelchair Basketball Event at CSI brought out competitive nature and opened up peoples’ minds to others’ conditions.

Brilliantly put together by Samantha Wong and Lucia Rossi, and with the help of many other talent individuals; the passion put in by every single person perfumed the event.

Taking an entire semester’s worth of planning, this event was created to bring people together to spread awareness, and help develop more of an understand of sports like Wheelchair Basketball played by people with disabilities.

Also, the CUNY Athletics Conference helped by providing the gym floor and the Ryan Martin Foundation procured 8 wheelchairs. This event also allowed many different types of people to play.

Lucia Rossi also gave concern for the lack of school spirit within CSI, wanting students to feel more connected with the campus, as well as minority groups. Rossi and Wong both hoped the event will help with that regard by getting people more involved.

Watching the players from the stands and also interviewing one of them it is clear that goal is being met.  One such players name is Erkin Islam, who played basketball for 10 years.

Islam expressed how hard it was compared to not using a wheelchair. Saying how it actually gave a new perspective on the tribulations people with disabilities have to go through.

Also, to give more insight into how different it really was and what kinds of new techniques might arise. Islam said how it took a lot of coordination and timing to keep up.

Even knowing when to maybe go one handed to switch direction to open up for a catch or a shot, while also trying to slow down as to pass right by the hoop or a pass.

Now for Ryan Martin, who wants to help promote wheelchair basketball throughout the states with the Ryan Martin Foundation.

Born in Connecticut, Martin came from a family of 12 and learned to play many different types of sports. Martin started playing basketball at about 15 and went into college continuing to pursue basketball.

Martin now plays for the New York Rolling Nicks and also played in Europe professionally. Since, he has come home to spread awareness of the sport and help with its growth, as well as helping students with disabilities with better programs within the educational and employment spaces.

Martin also expressed hopes for a deeper understand of the sport and more exposure of wheelchair basketball. He aspires for people to change their views of the sport and start to have the same level of respect for it like the NBA and other major league sports.

Since there are amazing and hard working athletes pouring their soul into getting better and building up their professional career, providing people with a more connected understanding of the sport, is necessary.

 Based on the thoughts from participants during the event, they definitely feel more connected and aware of others’ conditions.

Wheelchair basketball is inevitably  growing in the states and the players involved hopefully will receive more recognition for their hard work.

The turn out of the event could have definitely been better, but putting everything into perspective on how many events were happening during this time and clubs.

There is some level of understanding that it wasn’t 100% up to what the event holders wanted.

Luckily, the people that did attend gained a deeper understanding of the sport and enjoyed their time meeting Ryan Martin and playing the game.

Lastly, Samantha Wong and Lucia Rossi put so much into this event and gathered a collective of talented people like Ryan Martin.

From running around keeping people engaged and games going even, being able to squeeze in an extra game or two; to everyone who was involved, this was definitely a safe space that was welcoming from every angle.

The goals that this event set out to do aren’t in vain and stupendously succeeded in bringing people from every corner to all come together. Ultimately, wheelchair basketball opened up the attendees minds to a more progressive sports industry that welcomes all.

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