Wheelchair basketball event promotes inclusivity and adaptive sports

Wheelchair basketball event promotes inclusivity

Published: April 17, 2023
Gamma Phi Beta and Phi Kappa Psi Hoops on Wheels
A member of Kappa Kappa Gamma attempts a shot against team Gamma Phi Beta during "Hoops on Wheels" at the Barnes Center at the Arch at Syracuse University on April 16, 2023 in Syracuse, NY.

Syracuse University’s Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and Gamma Phi Beta sorority partnered with SU’s Disability Cultural Center to host a 3v3 wheelchair basketball tournament, “Hoops on Wheels” in support of Move Along

Move Along is an organization that aims to provide and promote inclusive adaptive sports for people with disabilities. Its goal is to create a world where people with disabilities can have access to recreational opportunities that meet their diverse needs. 

The members of Phi Kappa Psi have been wanting to spread disability awareness for a long time now because their chapter advisor, Newhouse Professor Seth Gitner, is disabled himself. After an entire trailer of wheelchairs was stolen from Move Along and scrapped for metal, they knew it was even more critical to spread awareness and raise money. 

“What really sparked this event was wheelchairs getting stolen,” Phi Kappa Psi chapter president Max Coleman said. “As a house, we had to come together and do something and we’re lucky enough to have GPhi’s support as well.” 

Phi Kappa Psi philanthropy chair Simba Chen explained that this is a new event that they are trying in connection with OrangeAbility. OrangeAbility is an annual Syracuse event held by the Disability Cultural Center (DCC) which strives to connect the campus community with the off-campus community and help people understand what adaptive sports are and how to build inclusive events.

“For the Disability Cultural Center, this event is about bringing awareness to disability pride events and celebrating how fun adaptive sports can be,” DCC director Carrie Ingersoll-Wood said. 

Student participants George Haywood and Andrew Leone raved about how fun playing wheelchair basketball was and hope to play again soon – this time focusing more on lay-ups rather than 3-pointers. 

“Being able to play basketball with them and be inclusive is really great,” Haywood said. “It made me really happy to see it. It’s special.” 

Move Along members Erik Ryan and Tisha Knickerbocker emphasized the importance of awareness for both the sport itself and the community.

“For me, this event is about awareness of the sport in general,” Ryan said. “It’s exhausting to be involved in something for 20-30 years and nobody knows it exists.”

They also gave first-time wheelchair basketball players tips for improving their game. Knickerbocker focused on using space by moving their chair and not clumping up together while Ryan reminded players to pass the ball.

“I think this event will make it so that they are not afraid to go jump in with their friends if they have a disability,” Knickerbocker added. “It shows them that they can participate too and there is an organization that allows them to do that.”