Wheelchair lacrosse offers team sport for disabled athletes

Updated: Sep. 7, 2019 at 7:07 PM EDT
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CANTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - There are currently only two wheelchair lacrosse teams in the state, but folks in Canton hope to create a third.

Rich Randall coaches one of those two teams, the Buffalo Bandits. He was tired of not having local teams to compete with.

“We’re trying to get the Rochester team to get a team, we’re trying to get Syracuse, Albany, southern Ontario,” he said. “We went to Colorado last year and it’s beautiful, but I want to do some local stuff."

He reached out to Mark McKenna, who coaches the local sled hockey team, to see if his players or other local disabled persons were interested in making a local wheelchair lacrosse team.

McKenna says he thought it was a great idea and organized a clinic held Saturday to gather interest.

“I don't think we do enough for our disabled, our wounded soldiers or disabled athletes,” he said, “and this gives them another chance to play a team sport.”

Robert George is a disabled veteran who plays on the Mountain Warriors hockey team McKenna coaches. He says lacrosse is like hockey in a lot of ways.

“I think it would be great to form a team here because it would give us something to do in the summertime when ice hockey is not going on,” he said. “and it would bring the team closer together and hopefully bring more people in.”

Players are learning and having fun, but the bigger goal is to grow the sport.

“It’s about exposure, it’s about the press, it’s about getting it out there, because somebody's going to read an article and see this, and their cousin is in a wheelchair and we can get that guy to come out and grow the sport,” George said. “So it's exposure.”

There weren't enough disabled persons signed up to play a full game, so local college lacrosse players volunteered to fill positions for Saturday’s clinic.

It's everyone's hope that more disabled players catch wind of the effort to form a Canton wheelchair lacrosse team and join in.

“Please come out, it’s more fun that you expect,” George said. “It gives you a place to connect with people with other disabilities and have fun, when you forget about your disabilities you’re all equal on the ice.”

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