Rochester wheels to victory

Cheers filled Kuhl gym this Saturday as the Rochester Wheels wheelchair basketball team won 66-64 against a Geneseo team formed by the Alpha Chi Rho fraternity and Sigma Kappa sorority.

This annual wheelchair basketball game, which concluded this year's Exceptional Experience Month with flare and fun, was hosted by the Council for Exceptional Children and took place at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 28. The Rochester Wheels, a nationally acclaimed basketball team, travels around to play other teams and promote awareness that people with disabilities can have an enjoyable time being active just as anybody else would.

"It's a fun way to promote awareness that you can still have a great life with a disability," said coach and coordinator for the game, junior Liz Stanczyk.

Though both teams took the game very seriously and competitively, a constant feeling of playfulness was in the air. The Rochester Wheels were clearly more agile and adept at maneuvering their chairs, most of which appeared to be specially designed for sports, but the Geneseo team held their own. The game was fast-paced, with teammates wheeling their chairs as fast as they could and maneuvering to catch the ball and keep it.

At halftime, the Rochester Wheels challenged the Geneseo team, telling them they would still beat Geneseo if they added 30 points to Geneseo's score. They came through on their challenge.

"I look forward to this event every year," said Rochester Wheels team member Mike Ortiz. "This group always gives their best, even though in the end we always win. It's difficult when we make it look so easy," he said with a smile.

The team said that their annual game at Geneseo is one of their biggest events.

CEC is a student-run group that designs programs to help raise awareness about students with disabilities. The wheelchair basketball game is held yearly as a part of Exceptional Experience Month.

"We're pretty active in getting word out about children with disabilities," said faculty advisor and School of Education assistant professor Susan Salmon. "We're really lucky to have it on campus. It does wonderful things."