Austintown Fitch Wheelchair Basketball team plays against Falcon seniors in season finale
The Austintown Fitch Wheelchair Basketball team was able to get one final game of the season in on Monday night, thanks to a few Falcons seniors. The Wheelchair Falcons, who have been around since the 2017-2018 season, faced-off against a number of Austintown's senior boys and girls basketball players in a great way to cap-off the season.
Austintown had several senior varsity players sit in wheelchairs and have some friendly competition with the Wheelchair Basketball team. The Wheelchair Falcons put on quite a showing, displaying their skills and showing no mercy by taking down the varsity players 52-8!
The Wheelchair Falcons are in their fourth season, and are in a league of seven teams throughout the region. The team was only able to play seven games this year due to COVID-19. The league is set up so that student athletes with disabilities can be on the team starting in kindergarten, all the way through 12th grade. According to head coach Jody Myers, "able-body" players are also allowed to participate, but teams are only allowed to have a maximum of two on the court at once, and are only allowed to score six points. They also play in wheelchairs, and it's a great way to get numbers up when needed.
Franklin Nicola, a 14-year-old athlete with the Wheelchair Falcons says he's grateful that Austintown is part of the league, letting him play the game he loves.
"I think it's cool because it gives people with a disability a chance to play sports that they like, that they can't with everybody else," he said. "I think it's fun that they play us and they think they can beat us, then when they get in the chairs it's a totally different story," Nicola joked. They did offer the varsity members some advice.
"I tried to get them not to travel and try to follow through each shot," Nicola added. He says his squad is very much a team with similar rules, practices and games.
"We run plays, we run our positions on defense and offense," he said. "Nothing's different except we're in chairs, that's it."
Austintown senior multi-sport athlete Todd Simons participated in the game from his own wheelchair, and was happy to do so, even though his team was taken down.
"It was really cool to give them another game, unfortunately we can't make it competitive. We're trying to learn the rules while they're feeding it to us, as it's 21-0," Simons laughed. "We just thought it was a really cool idea and it's really fun to play in."
If you're interested in getting involved with the Wheelchair Falcons, or have questions, you can reach out to Mr. Jody Myers, head coach of the team at [email protected] for more information.