Sports

Seattle Slam brings wheelchair rugby to Marysville YMCA April 15

Seattle Slam Paralympics Wheelchair Rugby player Curt Chapman, center, reaches for a pass during one of their games. - Courtesy photo.
Seattle Slam Paralympics Wheelchair Rugby player Curt Chapman, center, reaches for a pass during one of their games.
— image credit: Courtesy photo.

MARYSVILLE — After the Seattle Slam Paralympics Wheelchair Rugby Team became the recipient of the Marysville YMCA's monies from the Y's "Sweat for a Vet" three-hour cardio workout the day after Veterans Day last year, the team decided to show its support for the Marysville YMCA in return.

The 19-member team, including two players who have been part of its lineup since the team started in the late 1980s, will soon be making their first trip to Marysville, at least since Mike Clay took over as their manager five years ago.

From noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 15, the Seattle Slam will not only be competing against players from Vancouver, B.C., at the Marysville YMCA, but will also be demonstrating to visitors of the Y that day what wheelchair rugby is all about.

"When I started out with the team, we only had seven players, barely enough for a practice, let alone a scrimmage," said Clay, who got involved in wheelchair rugby after his son was injured in high school. "It's been really exciting to see how much we've grown since then, and how we've changed lives by enabling our players to do things they never would have thought possible before. It's become a family and a support group, and our constant outreach efforts are a huge part of that."

Whether players are competitive or recreational in the sport, Clay has witnessed wheelchair rugby's mental and physical effects on his team members, as their health and attitudes have improved over time. To that end, Clay praised not only Ronda Hardcastle, the health and wellbeing director of the Marysville YMCA, but also Scott Ballenger, one of the "NuStep Oldies" who took part in last year's "Sweat for a Vet," for the fitness training for the disabled that Ballenger has provided at the Y. Ballenger had heard about the Seattle Slam and suggested to Clay that they swing up north to the Marysville YMCA.

Just as the monies that the Marysville YMCA generated from their performance in "Sweat for a Vet" helped fund the Seattle Slam, so too does Clay hope that the Seattle Slam's visit to Marysville will help raise awareness of and support for the next "Sweat for a Vet" and fitness programs for the disabled at the Y.

"Times are tough for non-profits," Clay said, referring to both the Marysville YMCA and the Seattle Slam. "We've got a lot of players on fixed incomes or variable socioeconomic circumstances, and travel and equipment are expensive, but we've still recruited players from as far as Spokane to as close as Everett. We hope we can help Scott and Ronda out here."

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