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Movin' Mavs visit governor

When the Movin’ Mavs visited Rick Perry in February, the governor didn’t lessen wheelchair basketball as a sport by treating it as a token activity.

Movin' Mavs meet with Governor
Texas Gov. Rick Perry hosted the Movin’ Mavs wheelchair basketball team in February at the Capitol. Perry and the UT System Board of Regents recognized the team for its 2006 national title.

“He talked about athleticism like ‘palming the ball,’ the players’ hardware, the championship ring and other sports like six-man football,” coach Jim Hayes said. “That’s very significant because it indicates that, at the governor’s level, we’re starting to see a respect and recognition for our disabled that we haven’t seen much of in a post-World War II environment.”

Gov. Perry and the UT System Board of Regents recognized the team for its 2006 National Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball title, the seventh in school history.  

Winning the title was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for junior Aaron Gouge, who hit the free throws that tied the 2006 championship game with two minutes left. Following this year’s tournament in March, in which the Movin’ Mavs finished fifth, Gouge was named Most Valuable Player and first-team All-American.

“The governor didn’t just address the group and leave,” Gouge said.  “He talked with everyone, and we really appreciated it. It’s nice to get that recognition when you work so hard for something.”

Other players attending were junior point guard Danny Fik, freshman power forward David Wilkes, freshman guard James Patin, junior guard Tyler Garner and freshman small forward Jeff Sale.

Team manager Kathryn Jones, assistant coach Doug Garner, UT Arlington President James D. Spaniolo and Vice President for Student Affairs Frank Lamas also were on hand.

After meeting the governor, the team received a proclamation from the Texas House of Representatives. It states that UT Arlington is “securing its reputation as one of the powerhouses in the sport.”

“You could tell that some of the representatives knew of the Movin’ Mavs and their reputation and what they have accomplished,” Hayes said. “They addressed the team as athletes and a sporting group that represented their university well.”

The team met with Sen. Chris Harris, who presented a Senate resolution recognizing the 2006 title.

UT Arlington joined the NIWB league in 1989. Since then, seven athletes have been named Most Valuable Player, and 17 others have made first-team All-American. The Movin’ Mavs are the only intercollegiate wheelchair team to have every member on full scholarship.

— Susan M. Slupecki

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