PBS Gets into the Paralympic Spirit with Medal Quest

To PBS’ fans (an ever-growing contingent thanks to Downton Abbey!), the network’s consistent excellence is no surprise. But still, I’m incredibly pumped to come across Medal Quest, a marvelous PBS website devoted to the upcoming 2012 Paralympic Games in London. The site is chuck full of video, not to mention helpful descriptions of Paralympic sports, athlete profiles, and a blog. The site only went live a week or two ago, so there is sure to be a lot more great content in store. So if you, like me, are eagerly counting down the days to the Paralympics (only 179 left!), Medal Quest might help sustain you until then.

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Pakistan Tops England in First International Adaptive Cricket Match

The Pakistani side, courtesy of DAWN.

Earlier this month, we told you that England and Pakistan were facing off in a groundbreaking international cricket match. Well, the results are in, and Pakistan took home the One-day Internationals by 2-1 and the T20 International series 2-0. I really wish I knew what that meant, but, like most of my countrymen, I am cricket ignorant. (If any cricket savvy readers want to expound on this, please leave a comment on our Facebook wall.) But a big congrats to Pakistan, and to England for participating in this trailblazing event.

The England Cricket Board’s national disability manager Ian Martin was upbeat despite the loss, telling The National:

“Through this series that we’ve got here, we’ve been able to display that at the highest level. That’s been the beauty of this series; it’s been able to showcase the abilities these players have.

“In the short term, what I would like to see is this series again perhaps in two years’ time, with the addition of another country or maybe two.

“But certainly in the long term, it would be to have a World Cup of physically disabled cricket.”

We certainly hope he’s right.

An aside: while I was glad to see The National cover the series, I was also baffled by the fact that their article did not include the results of the matches. Instead, it focused almost exclusively on the inspirational stories of the athletes competing. Of course, these stories really are inspiring, but would they ever tell the story of an able-bodied sports event without letting the readership know how it ended? I get that winning isn’t everything, but these competitive athletes surely cared who took home the title and so did their fans. It’s long past the point that we see athletes with disabilities only as feel-good stories. They are legitimate competitors and should be regarded as such.

P.S. A big thanks to DAWN, who did cover the results.

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Southeast Regional Wheelchair Basketball Championships – Day 2

Blazers and Music City Square Off in Two Championship Games – March 11

Day 2 of the 2012 Southeast Regional Junior Wheelchair Basketball Championships included the final six round-robin games and the two Championship games.   Read more…

Southeast Regional Wheelchair Basketball Championships – March 10, 2012

Day one of the Southeast Regional Wheelchair Basketball Championships at the All-Tournament Players Park included seven back to back games on two courts.

Varsity Tournament: Day 1

On the Varsity side, the Lakeshore Lakers (AL) opened with a convincing win over the Jr, Thunder (NC) 39-3.  The host team, Georgia Blazers, started their tournament run with a strong 37-19 over the Charlotte Rollin Bobcats (NC). The Blazers were led by local favorite and Lassiter High School sophomore Bryan Powell with 10 points. Senior Blazer and University of Illinois recruit, Christina Young, scored 7, followed by Martinez Johnson and Treyvon Smith, who both scored 6. Luke Huchinson scored 4 and Curran Brown and Anthony Cavallaro rounded out the Blazers’ score with 2 points apiece.

Christina Young scores 2 of her 7 on a fast break layup against Charlotte.

Regional powerhouse Music City Thunder (TN) opened with a 27-12 win over the Jr. Thunder (NC) and had to play back-to-back games, facing the local favorites Georgia Blazers in the fourth game of the day.  Music City started strong and led at half time 25-17. The Blazers led by Bryan Powell with 12 points, ran out of gas in the second and lost 43-29.  Martinez Johnson scored 8 points for the Blazers, with Treyvon Smith adding 4 points Christina Young and Curran Brown scoring 3 and 2 points respectively. In another second round of game, Charlotte Rollin Bobcats (NC) outshot their North Carolina neighbors Jr. Thunders 32-14.

The Georgia Blazers talk strategy during a tough Music City game.

In their third game of the day, the Georgia Blazers faced the Lakeshore Lakers (AL) for a possible spot in Sunday’s championship game.  The Blazers built a 24-16 lead in a fast past defensive game. That first half lead would prove to make the difference as the Lakers outscore the Blazers 23-20 in the second, but fell short 44-39.  Senior center Martinez  Johnson lead all scorers with 24 points, followed by Anthony Cavallaro with 10 and Curran Brown with 4 points.  Christina Young, Luke Hutchinson and Bryan Powell each scored 2 points.

In the final Varsity game of the day matched the Music City Thunder (TN) against the Charlotte Rollin Bobcats (NC). The Thunder finished the day as they started with a strong 51-31 win.

Prep Tournament : Day 1

In the Prep division, the Music City Thunder (TN) open the tournament with a 20-14 win over the Jr. Thunder (NC).  The Georgia Blazer Prep team started their push to the championship game with a solid 26-6 win over Alabama rivals Lakeshore Sharks. The Blazers spread the scoring out with all seven players scoring at least once. Sam Armas led the Blazers with 10 points while Josh Joines and Teavan Grant each had 4 points. Collin “Turtle” Lafon, Cameron Elzey, Collin Lancaster and Chance Boyd each had 2 points.

The Georgia Blazers at the opening tip off against the Lakeshore Sharks.

Josh Joines scores 2 of his 4 points against the Lakeshore Sharks.

The Jr. Thunder rebounded off their first game loss and beat the Charlotte Rollin Bobcats 18-4. The Lakeshore Sharks (AL) tried to recover from their first game loss facing the Music City Thunder (TN) in the 1:00 pm game. Music City extended a 14-8 half-time lead to a 26-16 win. Music City had to play back-to back games and took on the home team Georgia Blazers in the teams’ second game of the day.  This would be the third meeting for the southeast rivals with the Blazers winning both of the previous outings. The Blazers preparing for the first ever trip to the National Championships, worked the defensive extremely well.  Blazers led at half time 20-0. The Blazers finished strong with a 32-2 win. The Blazers had 6 of 7 players in the scoring column.  Josh Joines led the way with 10 points, with Sam Armas scoring 8 and Collin Lancaster scoring 6.  Chance Boyd added 4 points and Taevon Grant and Cameron Elzey scored 2points apiece.

The closest Prep game of the day was the Jr. Thunder (NC) against the Lakeshore Sharks (AL).  Lakeshore had a 1 point lead at half-time, 14-13 in a tough see-saw battle. Lakeshore doubled their score and led 28-27 with less than a minute to play. The Jr. Thunder could not convert and Lakeshore wins.

The Georgia Blazers closed out the day’s Prep division with a defensive battle against the Charlotte Rollin Bobcats.  The Blazers decided to rest the two high scores, Josh Joines and Samuel Armas. The Blazers led at half time 10-0.  Defenses continued throughout the second half and the Blazers finished with a 18-5 win and earn a trip to the championship game on Sunday.

BlazeSports would like to extend a thank you to UPS and Kennesaw State University Sports Management program for providing the volunteers for today’s games.  In addition, a special thank you to our hosts, the Summit at All-Tournament Players Park.

Tournament Scores: Saturday, March 10

8:30 Varsity: Lakeshore 39 vs. Jr. Thunder 3
8:30 Prep: Music City 20 vs. Jr. Thunder 14
10:00 Varsity: Blazers 37 vs. Charlotte 19
10:00 Prep: Blazers 26 vs. Lakeshore 6
11:30 Varsity: Music City 27 vs. Jr. Thunder 12
11:30 Prep: Charlotte 4 vs. Jr. Thunder 18
1:00 Varsity: Blazers 29 vs. Music City 43
1:00 Prep: Lakeshore  16 vs. Music City 26
2:30 Varsity: Charlotte 32  vs. Jr. Thunder 14
2:30 Prep: Blazers 32 vs. Music City 2
4:00 Varsity: Blazers 44 vs. Lakeshore 39
4:00 Prep: Lakeshore 28 vs. Jr. Thunder 27
5:30 Varsity: Music City 51 vs. Charlotte 31
5:30 Prep: Blazers 18 vs. Charlotte 2

March Madness Starts in Marietta, GA

March has long been known for battles between basketball rivals throughout the country.  Those rivalries include wheelchair basketball and will start at the Southeast Regional Junior Wheelchair Basketball Championships being hosted by BlazeSports America, March 10-11, at the All Tournament Players Park in Marietta, GA.    Read more…

Southeastern Conference Championships
All Tournament Players Park
3910 Canton Road
Marietta, GA

Posted in Blog, Wheelchair Basketball |

Georgia Blazers in Music City Tournament

Blazers Faced Stiff Competition at Music City Tournament

The Georgia Blazers traveled to Franklin, TN for the 2012 Music City Madness Wheelchair Basketball Southern Regional Qualifying Tournament, the last major tournament prior to the 2012 NWBA National Tournament. Both the Blazer’s Varsity and Prep Team opened the tournament with a 9:30 am game on Friday, February 25.

The Blazer’s Prep Team had to play a player short because second year player TK Reese was out for the season with a broken leg. The Blazers entered the Music City tournament ranked #1 with a perfect 7-0 season. Their first game was against 4th ranked Turnstone Flyers (IN). The Blazers jumped out to a 16-8 first half lead, led by Josh Joines and Samuel Armas who had 10 and 6 first half points respectively. The second half was more of the same, with the Blazers tightening their defense a bit and keeping the offense moving. The Blazers win 30-14.  Josh Joines led all scorers with 18 points. Sam Armas scored 10 and Chance Boyd had 2 points.The Prep Team’s second game was against 3rd ranked Grand Rapids Junior Pacers. The Pacers were a fast, good shooting team and gave the young Blazers their toughest game of the season. The Pacers led at halftime 21-10. The Blazers changed up their defense in the second half, but could not hold back strong shooting Pacers.  The Blazers lost their first game of the year, 41-24. Josh Joines again led the Blazers with 16 points.  Samuel Armas had 6 and Cameron Elzey scored 2 points.   Read more…   

Music City Madness Photo Album

Posted in Blog, Wheelchair Basketball |

Are Smartphones Making Braille Obsolete?

Pic courtesy of NPR.

Did you know that only 1 in 10 blind Americans can read Braille? With the rise of smartphones, it’s easier than ever for individuals with visual impairments to navigate the world with the help of text recognition technology. Services like iTunes provide easily downloadable audio books. This led NPR to ask, is there still a place for Braille in modern day America? Julie Deden, director of the Colorado Center for the Blind, says yes. “People will let it go and they’ll say: ‘Well, you know, they’re not really illiterate. They just don’t really use Braille or print very much, but that’s just because they’re blind. I think that it’s kind of an out, and technically they really are mostly illiterate.”

There are good reasons to learn Braille–text recognition software is still imperfect and listening to a robotic voice can be less than pleasant. However, I feel the need to question Deden’s assertion that blind individuals who do not learn Braille qualify as “illiterate.” It strikes me as analogous to saying a person with a hearing impairment doesn’t appreciate music, which is to say it frames a disability in terms of deficiency. Since blind Americans are unable to access text through their eyes, some choose to do so through their fingertips and many more prefer to do so through their ears. It’s troubling to see some school districts attempting to circumvent rules that would require them to teach Braille to students with visual impairments, but it’s also troubling to see leaders in the blind community casually referring to 90% of their constituency as “illiterate.”

That’s just this blogger’s opinion, though. Listen to the story below and make your own judgement.

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Nike Seduced by “Paralympic Glamour”

Sarah Reinertsen. Pic courtesy of the BBC.

It looks like name brands are learning what we’ve known for a long time: Paralympians are a cool, cool bunch. Nike, for example, is looking to turn this cache into cash with its sponsorship of Sarah Reinertsen, an American runner with a leg amputation. Amputee road runners typically cut the soles off of regular shoes and adhere them to their prostheses, but Reinertsen to develop a specially-designed running sole that she can clip onto her blade. It even sports the swoosh:

It’s great to see the needs and wants of people with disabilities being taken seriously by one of the world’s most recognizable brands. But experts are skeptical about any real innovation coming from the sportswear giant. “Young amputees, such as soldiers who have been injured in Afghanistan, are aspirational. Fashion is important to them because of their age,” Saeed Zahedi, visiting professor in prosthetics at the University of Surrey, told the BBC. “Companies will do anything to increase their sales but these are medical devices. I’m sceptical about using fashion and branding to sell prosthetics unless there’s clinical evidence to back it up.”

Others in the disability community worry about corporations using them to appear charitable or benevolent. Adventure sports enthusiast and double amputee Kimberly Barrenda points out that people with disabilities spend $770 billion every year and says, “I wish companies would turn down the glow of the self-manufactured halo and just admit they have discovered a ridiculously huge untapped market, and they would love a piece of it.”

All valid points, but between this and Oscar Pistorius being voted South Africa’s sexiest celebrity, it’s still nice to see our imagination of what is attractive, cool, and chic expanding to include people with disabilities.

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BlazeDay honors Luke Hutchinson – Georgia Blazer

BlazeDay at Mabry Middle School, Feb 10th 2012

On Friday February 10th the BlazeSports staff was welcomed by staff and pupils from Mabry Middle School as part of their Disability Awareness Program.

The BlazeSports staff worked with PE teacher Ms McCall to organize a day of activities which allowed the students to experience a variety of disability sports. These sports included wheelchair racing, wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball and goal ball.   Read more…

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