Wheelchair Sports Federation | Adaptive Sports Organization
2010 Winter Paralympics Opening Ceremony Print E-mail
Written by Peter Quartuccio   

Opening Ceremony: Root for the Home Team, but Appreciate and Cherish the Home Crowd


            There they sat.  Spectators draped in green, white, and shades of blue, waving their illuminating pompoms that set the BC Place aglow with a vibrant red.  As they cheered and applauded and sang, one got the sense that they could not have been prouder.  Last night’s Opening Ceremony for the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games in Vancouver proved a thoroughly moving and memorable evening, one which celebrated Canada, Canadians, and the Paralympians in attendance who, in the words of International Paralympic Committee President Sir Philip Craven, “redefine the possible.”


            Athletes from forty-four countries spread across five continents proudly entered BC Place last night, each with a story of triumph and each with a dream for Paralympic glory.  They were cheered and addressed and lauded all night, and while the celebrity appearances and thoughtful though redundant speeches were many, the focus never strayed far from the athletes and the setting for the games to come.  The ceremony exuded a sincere pride for country, a country that has provided inspiration for so many in the persons of Terry Fox and Rick Hansen, athletes who helped expand the notions of what was possible for disabled individuals in athletic competition.


            All of the festivities were aided of course by the aforementioned wonderful people fortunate enough to be present.  There was an effervescent feel to the proceedings that lent a real energy among the crowd, an energy that was evident throughout.  There were roars of anticipatory fervor when the mere implication of a United States-Canada sled hockey match-up was made by Sir Craven, who termed it “the clash of the titans.”  When British Columbia native and Paralympic champion Rick Hansen was announced, the crowd erupted and showered Hansen with boomingly loud cheers of adulation and respect.  The lighting of the flame produced a similarly emphatic response, and the faces of the thousands in the stands emitted pure joy as watched that enduring flame ignite.  The torch and all it stands got a captive audience tonight, an audience whose passion, reverence, and excitement contributed to making last night a truly magical evening.


            To see additional coverage of the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games in Vancouver, go to www.WheelchairSportsFederation.org.  


Photos taken by Carter Farmer.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 June 2010 23:39
University of Arizona Women win East Regional Wheelchair Basketball Tournament Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   
The Lady Liberty Women's Wheelchair Basketball East Regional was held on Saturday January 30th, 2010 at the Al Oerter Recreation Center in Flushing, NY.  One of only 3 Regional Tournaments in the United States for the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) Women's Division.  6 teams participated and included exhibition games with the local NY/NJ Men's Wheelchair Basketball Teams from the Eastern Wheelchair Basketball Conference (EWBC).  The game of the day was the Lady Liberty facing the young ladies from the University of Arizona.  After a close first half, the women of U of Arizona pulled away from the local team by a score of 55 to 28 to win the East Regional

Final Standings East Regional Women's Division
1st Place - University of Arizona
2nd Place - Lady Liberty

All-Tournament Awards
Class I - Jillian Marks - Lady Liberty
Class I - Jennifer Poist - University of Arizona
Class II - Kelly Loth - Lady Liberty
Class II - Tomara Moss - University of Arizona
Class III - Nicole McDonald - University of Arizona
Class III - Lareese Lopez - University of Arizona
Freddy Jones Sportsmanship Award - Cacsmy Brutus - Lady Liberty
Most Valuable Player - Elizabeth Acosta - University of Arizona
Al Youakim Spirit Award - Dave Deas

Thanks to all the volunteers from the Wheelchair Sports Federation, NYC Parks and Recreation Department and Crowne Plaza LaGuardia Airport Hotel who helped make this a great tournament and first of an annual commitment to hosting Women's Wheelchair Basketball in NYC.  We look forward to seeing everyone next year for the 2nd Annual.
Last Updated on Saturday, 06 February 2010 00:42
Written by Peter Quartuccio   

Wounded Warrior and Young Hopeful Participate in Team Practice and Scrimmage

TARRYTOWN, NY — The New York Rangers Sled Hockey Team welcomed two newcomers into their practice facility in Tarrytown, New York this past Thursday, January 7, Ben Wolken, a member of the Wounded Warrior Project, and Sam Greenberg, a 1st grader from Greenwich Village, New York.  With former NY Rangers player, Brian Mullen on hand to help at the Madison Square Garden Training Facility, two people with very different backgrounds came out to try the Adaptive Sport of Sled Hockey.

            Sam is a 6-year-old (“6-and-a-half,” he corrected me) New Yorker who too took part in his first sled hockey experience.  Already an athlete—Sam is a blue-belt in his Karate class— he chose sled hockey as his next sporting endeavor because, in the words of his father, “he likes going fast.”  It took some time, but Sam achieved a few good heads of steam on the ice.  What's more, even when surrounded with former and current paralympians during the team's scrimmage, a look of cool confidence never left his face.  After leaving the ice, Sam confirmed what that look suggested: he’d be back. Indeed, the experience received a shining endorsement from Sam, for when asked by his father how it went, Sam responded, “Can we come back tomorrow?”


            Ben Wolken is a Marine who was wounded in combat by an IED in Iraq several years ago.  A native of Brewster, New York, Ben initially found it very difficult adjusting to his new life as a disabled person.  Feeling isolated and alone, he admitted that his personal problems got him into a lot of trouble.  However, Ben soon found a way to deal with his troubles and alienation: participation in the Wounded Warrior Project.  Through their dedication and commitment to bettering the lives of veterans, Ben discovered a myriad of sports adapted for people with disabilities, one of which was sled hockey. Urged on by his hockey-loving wife, he decided to give it a go, and with an invite from the New York Rangers Sled Hockey Team, he took the ice in a sled for the first time.  After some initial issues with steering the at-times unwieldy sled, Ben seemed to get the hang of it, especially towards the end of the evening during the team scrimmage.  Ben received advice and encouragement from all of the Rangers, a fact which he gratefully acknowledged afterwards.  While he stated that it was “tiring” and admitted that he had trouble stopping, one could hear in his voice a shift from self-deprecation to growing confidence towards the end of the interview.  In fact, when asked if, in the event a team was short on players, he would consider suiting up and playing in the upcoming NESHL event in Danbury, Connecticut on Sunday, January 10, Ben was anything but dismissive.  That kind of confidence, along with the bravery it took to break out of his doldrums and participate, is the mark of a proud Marine, and the hope and sense of community that this practice engendered in him is what the Wounded Warrior Project is all about.


            For more information about the Wounded Warrior Project, the NESHL, and other adapted sports events, please visit www.WoundedWarriorProject.org, www.NESHL.org, and www.WheelchairSportsFederation.org


Photos by Carter Farmer


Last Updated on Thursday, 28 January 2010 22:44
2nd Annual "Crank to the Finish" 8 Mile Handcycling Race Report Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   

     On Saturday November 7th, 2009 at 9:30 am under the Unisphere at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, NY, the 2nd Annual "Crank to the Finish" 8 Mile Handcycling Race had 24 racers participate in the sole Handcycles only race in New York State. Sponsored by the Wheelchair Sports Federation, NYC Parks & Recreation Department and USOC Paralympic Academy, the 2nd Annual Race is designed to offer advanded hancyclers as well as novices the opportunity to race against each other for prize money. The overall winner was Ricardo Corral who covered the 8 mile course with a time of 29 minutes and 15 seconds and took home $250 in prize money.

The other winners included:

  • Overall Female - Helene Hines - 32 minutes 55 seconds - $250
  • Men's Open - Peter Hawkins - 37 minutes 31 seconds - $200
  • Women's Open - Minda Dentler - 37 minutes 18 seconds - $200
  • Men's Masters - Joseph Mendez - 40 minutes 40 seconds - $200
  • Men's Quad - Carlos Guzman - 37 minutes 30 seconds - $200
  • Veteran's - Edwin Lopez - 54 minutes 0 seconds - $200
  • Juniors - Nia Bets - 1 hour 10 minues - $100

     On behalf of Race Director, Joe Mendez, I'd like to thank all the volunteers from Long Island University, Columbia University and the American Red Cross group from Cordoza High School. We could not have done it without you.

We look foward to the 3rd Annual Race in 2010. For more information on Handcycling, please visit www.WheelchairSportsFederation.org or send an e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

All photos were taken by Carter Farmer.

Last Updated on Friday, 11 December 2009 04:03
3rd Annual NY Jets v NY Giants Wheelchair Football Game - Summary Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   

Group Photo NY Giants & NY JetsOn a perfect day to play football, the NY Jets beat the NY Giants, 27 to 26 to win their 3rd Annual Wheelchair Football Game.  Sponsored by the NFL teams, the NY Jets and NY Giants, the two teams played a hotly contested battle on Saturday November 21st, 2009 at 11 am on a field specifically built for Wheelchair Football at Diamond in the Pines in Brookhaven NY.  The hard top surface of this 80 yards x 22 yards field allow the wheelchair athletes to use their speed.  With the help of volunteers from Stonybrook University, St. Charles Rehabilitation Hospital and the Town of Brookhaven, the teams played each other closely with the NY Giants taking a big lead at half-time 26 to the NY Jets 14.  The NY Jets, however came out hungry in the 2nd half and scored 13 unanswered points to take the lead and win the game.  Jason Soricelli's two touchdowns helped the NY Jets win the game and garnered him the MVP trophy for 2009.  Two Al Youakim Spirit Awards were given to the coaches of each team, Jason Corrao, coach of the NY Giants and Bill Hannigan, winning coach of the NY Jets.

A special thanks to Chili's for coming out and feeding over 100 spectators, volunteers and adaptive athletes.

If you'd like to learn more about Wheelchair Football, please contact me or go to www.WheelchairSportsFederation.org.

We look forward to next Spring and our first 6 team Wheelchair Football Tournament with teams from New York, New Jersey, Chicago and Boston coming to play.  Details will follow.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 November 2009 02:07
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