Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans), teaming up with Wheelchair Lacrosse USA, recently hosted a wheelchair lacrosse clinic in Las Vegas for Paralyzed Veterans chapter executive directors, Paralyzed Veterans’ members and some local wheelchair athletes.
During the clinic, May 15–16, 2014, approximately 30 participants learned the basics of wheelchair lacrosse from Wheelchair Lacrosse USA founders, Ryan Baker and Bill Lundstrum.
After two days of learning everything about the game, including chair mobility passing and catching, and defense, attendees broke out into two teams and played a full scrimmage.
Paralyzed Veterans Director of Sports and Recreation Ernie Butler who helped coordinate the clinic said he was pleased with the outcome.
“We had a really good turnout and everyone had a really good time,” Butler said. “Our goal with this clinic was to pique the interest of chapter executive directors to establish lacrosse teams within their chapters and communities, and I think we accomplished that.”
Since the clinic, three chapters have signed on to host clinics in their local areas, and the Wisconsin Chapter is in the process of forming a wheelchair lacrosse team.
James Veltri, a member of the Wisconsin Chapter who participated in the clinic in Las Vegas, said wheelchair lacrosse is definitely something he’d be interested in playing again.
“It was a lot of fun—a very active, aggressive sport,” said Veltri, a Navy veteran who was injured in 2005 and stays active playing sled hockey, handcycling, and other sports. He will also compete in the 34th National Veterans Wheelchair Games being held Philadelphia in August.
“There’s a lot of excitement about the sport so we’re hoping to see it really grow,” Butler added. “We’re even hoping to host another clinic on the East Coast sometime this fall.”
Butler currently plays wheelchair lacrosse with a team outside Baltimore, MD, on weekends.
While the growth of the sport has been slow, but steady, Lundstrum said they’re really starting to see interest in the sport pick up speed.
“We currently have five teams that are playing regularly across the country, and we’re starting to do more demonstrations and clinics for people who are interested in learning more about the sport and possibly starting a team,” he said.
Cofounder Baker said they would love to see more people playing lacrosse, but for them it’s more about getting people in wheelchairs active and having fun.
“More than the game or the sport, what Bill and I really get out of this is being able to bring people together and try something new and different in a team-oriented environment,” Baker said. “There are a lot of great things for disabled people out there and at the end of the day, whether its lacrosse or another sport we really want people to just get out there and do something to be active.”
Baker, Lundstrom, and Wheelchair Lacrosse USA teammates will play an exhibition game at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games to showcase at the sport at a higher level. To learn more about Wheelchair Lacrosse USA, please visit www.wheelchairlacrosse.com.
For more information about hosting a clinic or forming a team, please contact ErinG@pva.org.
Learn more about Paralyzed Veterans’ adaptive sports and recreation programs