Georgia Blazers Wheelchair Basketball has begun training for the upcoming season. The team, led by Coach Cully Mason who himself was a highly successful Georgia Blazer, has 23 players on its roster. This number represents the largest contingent of players in BlazeSports’ history. Stay tuned to the BlazeSports website (BlazeSports.org) for results and highlights from the upcoming season.
2011 Four-Post Paralympic Regional Games comes to an end at Fort Benning
Day 3 started with a sitting volleyball match, the final competition of the three days of events. In the first match, Fort Benning beat Fort Gordon 2-0 (25-18, 25-12). In the second match, Fort Stewart and Fort Gordon played the most exciting match of the day. Fort Stewart needed a tiebreaker to defeat Fort Gordon 2-1 (25-15, 20-25, 15-6), setting up the final against the home team. In the big Sitting Volleyball final, Fort Benning had a tremendous performance to guarantee first place, beating Fort Stewart in a one game match (25-15).
Follow a morning of exciting volleyball, the Fort Benning staff held an Awards Ceremony. The final standings for the Regional Games were:
- Fort Benning – 1086.6 pts
- Fort Gordon – 1038.3 pts
- Fort Stewart – 953.3 pts
- Fort Jackson – 806.3 pts
After the Awards Ceremony, BlazeSports staff, Cheryl Holiday, Cully Mason, and Felipe Rodrigues, were honored to receive from LTC, LG Gregory Hopkins a Certificate of Appreciation and a medal from Fort Benning Warrior Transition Battalion for the support, dedication, and commitment to the Warrior Transition soldiers during the 2011 Four-Post Paralympic Regional Games.
Wheelchair Basketball Tops Day 2 of Competition at Fort Benning
Day 2 was divided between wheelchair basketball and sit volleyball. Basketball was up first with a morning clinic. Georgia Blazer Head Coach, Cully Mason, implemented the clinic and reviewed basic rules and offensive and defensive strategies. Once the clinic ended, efforts turned to a very competitive tournament between Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, and Fort Stewart. In the first match, Fort Gordon beat Fort Stewart in a very close game with a final score of 12 to 10. After the win, Fort Gordon had the chance to analyze their opponent in the tournament final when Fort Stewart took on the home team Fort Benning. The home team had a great game and won 23 to 12, setting up the championship game against Fort Stewart. In front of a crowd of approximately 50 spectators, Fort Benning got another win, 18 to 5, in a game that was much closer than the final score suggested. The home crowd celebrated Fort Benning’s win, rushing the court to congratulate the winners! The afternoon of Day 2 was spent in a sitting volleyball clinic for 15 players and a crowd of 24 spectators. Blaze staff Cheryl Holiday coordinated skills and drills to get the squads ready for the final day of competition, which will start at 9am with the volleyball tournament followed by the awards ceremony.
BlazeSports America Supports Warrior Transition Battalion Clinic & Competition Games
A team of three BlazeSports staff traveled to Columbus, Georgia to assist SFC Ronald Black and the Fort Benning Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) with a three day WTB Clinic & Competition Games. The Games are part of an ongoing U.S. Paralympic Military program that involves warriors in transition from the three major military bases in Georgia (Fort Benning, Fort Stewart and Fort Gordon) and Fort Jackson in South Carolina. Day 1 of the Games included clinics in air weapons and archery. BlazeSports staff Felipe Rodrigues, Cully Mason and Cheryl Holiday assisted in the management of the archery clinic and competition. BlazeSports partnered with two local companies to coordinate the archery clinic and competition. Technical assistance was provided by Ginger Hopwood a USA Archery Level 4 Coach from the Archery Learning Center of Snellville, GA and Phillip Baldowski, who is ranked 17th in the country and is trying to make the US Olympic Archery team that will compete in London 2012. Five targets and targets stands were provided by Patrick Reinhardt of Last Chance Archery of Pendergrass, GA.
After a morning of practice, WTB warriors went head to head in ten round archery competition. Each participant shot three arrows per round for a total of 30 arrows. Fort Jackson came out on top with Terry Blogg scoring 283 points out of 300 possible. In second place, representing Fort Gordon, Corey Simpson scored 279 points, followed by Fort Gordon’s teammate William Taylor who finished with 274 points in a tie with Charles Davis, representing Fort Benning.
2012 Wheelchair Tennis Tour
A new Wheelchair Tour similar to that of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Aussie Open is set to begin in January, 2012. The tour will be a preliminary event before the 2012 Australian Open. The new tennis tour initiated by Tennis Australia will provide a unique opportunity to raise public awareness of disability and offer the unprecedented step of promoting wheelchair tennis. The Australian Wheelchair Tennis Tour will be held in four major Australian cities – Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney before the beginning of the invitational Australian Open. Wheelchair Tennis will be one of 20 sports played at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. For more information please visit: Wheelchair Tennis Guide
BlazeSports America has been awarded significant funding to support its international work in promoting development through sport, increasing the visibility of persons with disabilities in society for human rights, health enhancement, and the creation of peace and mutual understanding between societies. The recently awarded funding from US Agency for International Development (USAID); United European Football Association (UEFA) and United Nations Office of Sport for Development and Peace; and US Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs supports BlazeSports’ ongoing projects in Haiti and Jordan and also adds Russia to the countries with which we are working.
4-Team Wheelchair Basketball Tournament
A Wheelchair Basketball tournament hosted by the Holland’s men’s Basketball team ended yesterday. Wheelchair Basketball players representing the Netherland, Belgium, France, and Sweden participated in the tournament. The Dutch Olympic Committee has given continuous support to the national team as Team Holland strives hard to keep it very competitive. The team was not qualified for the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. Holland’s men’s Wheelchair Basketball successfully used the event as a preliminary for the 2011 European Wheelchair Basketball Championships scheduled to be held next month in the Palestinian town of Nazareth, Israel.” The sport of Wheelchair Basketball will be one of 20 sports featured at the the 2012 London Paralympic Olympic Games. For related online resources, please visit: Wheelchair Basketball
Disability and Gender
Many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) specialized in sport development have confronted with challenges when it comes to dealing with women with disabilities in developing countries. According to the International Platform on Sport and Development (IPSD), “women with disabilities have ‘double discrimination’ in disability sport – being disabled and being a woman.” Indeed, women with disabilities in developing countries are prone to intense discrimination stemming from social, cultural, and political factors. As NGOs and multi-governmental organizations such as the United Nations (UN) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) continue to work on improving conditions under which women with physical disabilities are treated with the respect they deserve. As the IPSD points out that “future research is required in specific countries and regions to identify the issues and obstacles that women are facing. For more information about the issue, please visit: Sport and Development
2011 Boccia World Cup: Team USA Prepares for Competition
Belfast, Ireland: Team USA joined teams from 33 countries in the Opening Ceremonies of the 2011 Boccia World Cup. Veteran team member, Lee Lobmeyer, was selected to carry the USA sign during the Parade of Teams, while rookie team member Luke Labas had the honor to be the flag bearer for Team USA.
With Opening ceremonies over, Team USA began to focus on Sunday’s first round of competition. Team USA combined court time with team strategy meetings to develop a competition plan for the first round of matches. Team USA (23) begins pool play with matches against Great Britain (2), Hong Kong (9) and Brazil (12) on Day 1. Team competition is played with three players per team with two substitute players for a total of five players. Team USA is made of two veteran players TJ Hawker (3-time Paralympian, OH) and Jennifer Jay (2-time Paralympian, FL) and three rookie players, Luke Labas (IN), Marck Harrison (OH) and Cornelius Oatis (OH).
Team USA’s BC3 Pairs team also has a busy Day 1 of competition. Pairs is played with two players from each team with one substitute. Team USA’s Pairs Team is made up of three veteran players; Austin Hansen (KS), Lee Lobmeyer (KS) and Sam Williams (IL). Currently ranked tenth in the world the USA trio is competing for a spot in the 2012 London Paralympic Games. To get there they need to start by dominating round one of pool play which includes get past Belgium (7), Portugal (2) and Argentina (19).
Team and Pairs play will continue for three days and is followed by individual play. Results will be posted as they come in.
2011 World Cup Team Heads to Ireland
Wednesday, August 17 was travel day for BlazeSports America’s 2011 National Boccia Team. Our team of 9 athletes and 10 staff departed from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport for Belfast Ireland and the 2011 World Cup. Thursday and Friday will be arrival days, classification, equipment check and pre-tournament practice. Saturday, August 20 is Opening Ceremonies and Pairs and Teams begin competition on Sunday, August 21.
The World Cup is the last major international Boccia competition before the 2012 London Paralympic Games and will include 191 athletes from 33 countries.
The 2011 National Boccia Team members are:
TJ Hawker Toledo, OH Individual and Team Play
Luke Labas Fort Wayne, IN Individual and Team Play
Cornelius Oatis Columbus, OH Individual and Team Play
Jennifer Jay Pinellas, FL Individual and Team Play
Marck Harrison Columbus, OH Individual and Team Play
Austin Hanson Topeka, KS Individual and Pairs Play
Lee Lobmeyer Topeka, KS Individual and Pairs Play
Sam Williams Elmhurst, IL Individual and Pairs Play
Patrick Elliot Peculiar, MO Individual Play
“Boccia has been on the sport program of the Paralympic Games since 1984. The Paralympic version is based on the game that originated in Italy and has since spread worldwide,” said Carol Mushett Johnson, the Chief Executive Officer for BlazeSports America. “We are very excited to about this team of talent athletes and their chances for medals at the World Cup..”
One of the fastest growing Paralympic sports, boccia is played one-on-one, in pairs or in teams of three and is contested an indoor hard court surface. The object of the sport is to throw or roll game balls so that they land as close as possible to the target ball called the jack. After all of the balls have been thrown, the closest team receives the number of points equal to the number of balls that they have closer to the jack than their opponent’s closest ball. The disability sport community initially adopted boccia as a sport for athletes with cerebral palsy but it is now open to all athletes with significant physical disabilities. The sport is a test of concentration, accuracy and strategic ability.