Adaptive athletes given chance to shine with Veterans Day tournament
An airman attending a Warrior CARE adaptive sports camp races to catch up to a loose ball at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. on April 26.
In honor of our wounded warriors and everyday heroes, Southern Arizona Adaptive Sports will be hosting the Tucson Veterans Weekend Wheelchair Basketball Tournament at Pascua Yaqui Wellness Center throughout the Veterans Day weekend.
The competing teams are all members of the National Basketball Wheelchair Association, and games will count towards the teams' records.
As a nonprofit, SAAS has a goal to help support the community by providing resources and opportunities in recreational and competitive adaptive sports. SAAS offers various sports year-round, such as adaptive cycling and wheelchair tennis.
Volunteer-driven, there are over 100 regional teams in the NBWA alone.
Eight teams will compete this weekend, including the newly-established Arizona Storm Women, Tucson Lobos Division III, University of Arizona’s Division I and Division II, and more. Teams will all compete against each other; there will be no separate men's and women's divisions.
Though the games will count towards each teams’ NBWA rank standing, the event serves even greater purposes.
“The big thing is to really show that we have a very vibrant adaptive sports community in Southern Arizona, and this is one way highlighting this,” said Michael J. Rosenkrantz, president and board member of SAAS and head coach for the Tucson Lobos. “We are trying to create more opportunities to participate in so that people can be healthy," he said. "We provide an outlet for people to play sports — which everybody wants to play no matter who they are.”
Former Tucson Lobos player and current UA Division II center Karl Yares was appreciative of the Pascua Yaqui Center for hosting the event, and the incredible sponsors they brought in.
“At the tournament this weekend, I hope I have a good team showing and get an important win on our record,” Yares said.
Yares was recovering from a car accident a little over a year ago, when he was introduced to the Tucson Lobos by a former player who invited Yares to participate. Yares found it very “therapeutic” for his rehabilitation.
Currently, he practices five days a week with his current team at the University of Arizona Rec Center.
“I think we bring people together who do not have any way to express themselves in an active way," Yares said. "[It is] good for people who are physically disabled in some way, and also I think it is good for people to see obstacles like this aren’t the end."
Rosenkrantz holds a similar outlook. “It doesn’t matter if someone has a disability. It is more about the person’s ability to participate.”
Ultimately, Rosenkrantz said he hopes the general public will take on a new perspective from watching the event.
“I think it is much more than just the event. It is a platform for honoring veterans that are participating, but it’s more of a platform for just being able to offer such opportunities in Southern Arizona," he said.
The Tucson Veterans Weekend Wheelchair Basketball Tournament will be held Nov. 11 and 12 from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. at the Pascua Yaqui Wellness Center located at 5305 Calle Torim Tucson, Arizona 85757.
On Sunday, Nov. 12, there will be an Adaptive Sports Expo at the same location from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.