Twenty-two wheelchair basketball teams from across the country will be at Lakeshore the weekend of January 10-12 to compete in the 27th Annual Pioneer Classic. The 2014 Pioneer Classic will feature teams from the National Wheelchair Basketball Association’s Championship Division, Division III and the Women’s Division, including the University of Alabama’s defending national champion women’s team. Five youth teams will also participate in the weekend’s schedule, including Varsity and Prep teams from BlazeSports’ Atlanta Junior Wheelchair Hawks and the Lakeshore Foundation and a new Varsity team from Montgomery, AL.
The Pioneer Classic has grown over the years and become one of the premier wheelchair basketball tournaments in the country. The tournament began in 1987 when Jo Fowler, along with other members of BellSouth’s all-volunteer community service organization, now known as the AT&T Pioneers, raised $6,000 to fund Lakeshore Foundation’s first wheelchair basketball invitational. Twenty-four years later, the Pioneer Classic has become a long-standing tradition among competitive wheelchair basketball players as well as an opportunity for newcomers to experience the growing sport.
“The AT&T Pioneers have been supporting the Lakeshore for the past 24 years because we believe in what they do,” said Fowler. “Lakeshore has always focused on people’s abilities, whether they be an adult or child, rather than their disabilities, and that’s what this tournament is all about. Many people say they have seen wheelchair basketball on television; I challenge them to see a game in person. If they do, I know they will have an enjoyable experience.”
“The Pioneer Classic is perhaps one of the longest running sporting events in Birmingham and has showcased the nation’s best talent in wheelchair basketball over the years – from up and coming young players to the elite level Paralympians,” said Lakeshore Foundation President Jeff Underwood. “We are always proud to serve as the host for this special tournament.”
Games begin at 9:00 AM on Friday, January 10th and continue through Sunday at 12 p.m. in Lakeshore Foundation’s fieldhouse. The awards ceremony will be held directly following the last game.
The Atlanta Junior Wheelchair Hawks schedule is:
9:30 Varsity vs Lakeshore
11:00 Prep vs Lakeshore
11:45 Varsity B vs Montgomery
01:15 Varsity vs Lakeshore
02:45 Prep vs Lakeshore
03:30 Varsity B vs Montgomery
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