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Thread: Quadriplegics rugby not a game for sissies

  1. #1

    Quadriplegics rugby not a game for sissies

    Quadriplegics rugby not a game for sissies

    By Jim Gintonio
    The Arizona Republic
    Oct. 22, 2002

    So how rough can this be? After all, it's called wheelchair rugby and played by quadriplegics.

    Consider this: Before the name was changed, participants referred to it as "Murder Ball." Whatever the tag, it serves a purpose.

    "The harder you can hit somebody with your chair, the better," said Scott
    Hogsett, one of four members of the APVA Phoenix Heat who has been chosen to compete in the 2004 Paralympics in Athens for Team USA.

    The Phoenix team, which plays against teams from other states, is ranked No. 2 nationally.

    "You can take your aggression out after a rough day," he said. "When they developed this in the late 1970s, there was nothing for quads. We can't keep up with the paraplegics in baseball or track, or anything. That's why quad rugby really took off."

    Quadriplegic athletes have limited use of all four limbs, to varying degrees.
    Hogsett, 30, said rugby, which is played on a basketball court, gives him a focus and satisfies his desire to compete. He was a promising baseball player at Washington State as a 19-year-old when he was thrown off a deck and punched, snapping his spinal cord. Hogsett, a graduate of Arizona State University, wanted to get active again as soon as possible.

    One of Hogsett's teammates, Andy Cohn, 24, was recently selected as Player of the Year by the United States Quad Rugby Association. He was only 16 when he was injured an automobile accident, and he was introduced to the sport at the right time, he said.

    "I didn't handle my injury quite as well as Scott did," said Cohn, who attend both Brophy Prep and Tempe Marcos de Niza and is one course short of a degree from ASU. "I went into my house and hid, thinking someday I'd get better and just reappear.

    "Therapeutically, rugby saved my life. It made me get stronger and made me feel better about myself. And it was being with the guys on the team, seeing them with girlfriends . . . it was a motivation for me.

    "Everyone struggles differently, but eventually you get to the point where you're comfortable and don't want to be bored or depressed any more."

    Both consider themselves athletes, pointing out the broken bones they have received, and the battered and dented wheelchairs from vicious collisions.

    Things get so physical at times that "pit crews" have to rush in from the sidelines to repair a chair or pull someone who was knocked down back into an upright position.

    "Sometimes the only way to stop somebody is to get in their way," Hogsett said. "Two wheels have to get across the line to score, and it's a physical game. If you can hit someone and knock him on the floor, that's a turnover.

    "It's like high-speed bumper cars. I've had surgeries on both elbows from falling over, and once in a while you see concussions or broken legs."

    The Arizona Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Barrow Neurological Institute sponsor the team, and players frequently speak to students and people who have suffered spinal cord injuries.

    "We don't do it to make ourselves feel good," Hogsett said. "It's to make the patients feel good. If we can help in any way, that's our goal."

    Jo Lemons, a recreation therapist at Barrow's, said the definition of life rapidly changes for anyone who is paralyzed.

    "The person you're working with, you want him to return to a healthy, active life. You want to ski, drive, OK, it may take modifications, but it's all very doable," Lemons said. " . . . On the average, it usually takes them two years to deal with their injury."

    Lemons said how people choose to cope in a positive manner is exciting to witness.

    "I'm still surprised at the resiliency of the human spirit," she said. "I don't think you can do this job and not believe in a higher being. I've seen a lot of miracles here."

    Reach the reporter at or (602) 444-8380.

    [This message was edited by seneca on Oct 23, 2002 at 05:16 AM.]

  2. #2

    That's Right!!

    and I play this? Must be crazy...LOL

    "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow"
    ~ Anon

  3. #3
    Personally, I was an athlete before my injury and try to stay fit after my injury, but this sport has absolutely no appeal to me. And there's no way I'm going to risk serious injury to my body (broken/dislocated limbs) and put the caregiving burden on other people and put my job at risk. That's irresponsible. I feel people often play quad rugby to prove something. I've done more dangergous things pre-injury than most will ever do, I've got nothing to prove now and know now the importance of preserving your body.

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