ARLINGTON - Twenty-one young athletes are tackling more than hoops and laps this week at The University of Texas at Arlington. They are learning to not only balance their own weight and about 20 pounds of aluminum and rubber, but also to pursue their athletic desires despite limitations.
These wheelchair athletes, from middle-schoolers to young adults, are attending the first camp hosted by the seven-time national champion Movin' Mavs wheelchair basketball team.
Doug Garner, Movin' Mavs coach, planned the camp as a way to help young wheelchair athletes hone their skills while learning about college and adaptive sports opportunities.
Taylor Detweiler, 18, is struggling with the arms-only move during an exercise to get back into the game after being knocked over. She is learning how to unstrap her feet from the wheelchair and use them for leverage as she straightens her chair. Detweiler, of Friendswood, is the only female camper.
Malat Wei of Houston executes the challenge by using "the worm" dance move. The 15-year-old flops his chair over on its side, turns facedown, then pushes up. His head rises, followed smoothly by his chest and torso, all with enough force to land him and his chair upright again.
Wei is attending the camp through a scholarship from the Paul Schulte Foundation. Wei had polio in his native country, Sudan, before coming to the United States three years ago. He began playing wheelchair basketball last year and plays with the Hot Wheels juniors team in Houston.
Schulte, a UT Arlington alumnus and former member of the Movin' Mavs, is a collegiate national champion, Paralympic gold medalist and inductee in the Athletes with Disabilities Hall of Fame. An engineer, Schulte designs sports wheelchairs.
Other campers include 12-year-old Zachary Sotelo of Bedford, the camp's youngest attendee, plus some young adults who are new to wheelchair sports. The athletes come from Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
This fall, UT Arlington will sponsor a wheelchair soccer clinic and adaptive sport clinics in table tennis, tennis and swimming.
Learn more about the Movin' Mavs wheelchair basketball team and adaptive sports at UT Arlington at www.utamovinmavs.com.
The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.