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Seattle Slam hosts wheelchair rugby at Marysville YMCA
MARYSVILLE — Seattle Slam, Washington’s nonprofit wheelchair rugby team, hosted a four-hour informational event and competition in the Marysville YMCA gymnasium on April 15.
The wheelchair rugby (also known as quad rugby) team, made up of 19 players, competed against the closest rival team from Vancouver, B.C., and hosted an informational session with members of the YMCA and the general public on wheelchair rugby and how the public could become involved. The team allowed individuals to test out the custom-made $4,000-$5,000 rugby wheelchairs they use during games.
Quentin Morris, a Marysville YMCA member who has cerebral palsy, tested the rugby wheelchair in the hall. “You really have to get used to the steering,” he said. “You definitely have to keep your stamina up.”
The event was scheduled in response to the YMCA’s donation to the team after the Y’s “Sweat for a Vet” fundraising event last November.
“Some of these guys are disabled vets,” said Scott Ballenger, YMCA adaptive fitness instructor. “Some of the score boards and other things are a result of the monies we raised here.”
YMCA Health and Wellbeing Director Ronda Hardcastle said that those who attended the event were impressed with the sport. “They were just real excited about it.”
Hardcastle spoke to the wife of a disabled veteran who tried out the sport for the first time on Sunday. “His wife said that’s the biggest smile she’s seen on his face in forever.”
Mike Clay, Seattle Slam’s manager, has been supporting the team for five years, after his son Mac Clay told him he wanted to try it out.
“There’s about 45 teams in the U.S.,” Clay said. “The closest are Vancouver and Portland, so we travel a lot.” So far this year, the Seattle Slam has traveled to Reno, Portland and San Diego. The team is traveling to Louisville, Ky., in two weeks for their next game. Hardcastle hopes that they make a regular stop out of Marysville.
“They have the one team in Vancouver, and then Seattle. This is like a good halfway point,” she said.