MU Basketball with a Twist

1 decade 10 months 2 weeks ago November 14, 2005 Nov 14, 2005 Monday, November 14 2005 Monday, November 14, 2005 9:15:33 AM CST in Tiger Talk

Meet the University of Missouri's newest sports team. At first glance the game may look familiar.

"There obviously are a couple different aspects, but by and large, its basketball," said Steve Paxton Missouri Wheelchair Basketball head coach.

They've got fans, referees, cheerleaders, even a home court.

"To be able to play at the university is just something that I can't honestly explain. Its so amazing," said Missouri wheelchair basketball player Garrett French Missouri.

Garrett French plays with a scholarship on wheels.  In fact, all of the players are on wheels. It's the University of Missouri's first ever wheelchair basketball team.

"Just being part of this, Mizzou, and bringing this back to Brewer Fieldhouse, it's amazing to me," said John Gilbert, Missouri wheelchair basketball player. 

Spina Bifita took French's ability to walk. But these athletes say what drives them on the court is a reflection of what drives them in life.

"What it is I don't know, but I wish I could bottle it," said Paxton.

"People saying you can't do this, you can't do that, you can't go down stairs, you can't blah blah. I do all that. I mean there's nothing other than walk, which I can do with a brace. There's nothing nobody says I can't do, that I can't do," said Gilbert.

"The first time you fall over, its definitely scary, but I mean it happens so much and you just get used to it," said French.

"Jammed fingers because you get them stuck in between wheels," said Gilbert.

As the clock runs out on MU's first ever wheelchair basketball game, this team isn't just happy be playing.

"I see this program being a national championship program," said French.

"I'm thinking national championship," said Gilbert.

They've got their sights set on a much higher goal.

"These guys are to be admired for what they do. Its not oh that's nice they're playing wheelchair ball. You saw what its like out there, and these are elite student athletes," said Paxton.

Student athletes admired for making history. Admired for never giving up. Admired for having what it takes to get up off the floor and play ball.

The wheelchair basketball team will play about 30 games this season.

Your next chance to see them play in Columbia will be Friday, February 10 and Saturday February 11.

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