BEAVERCREEK — An historic event taking place inside the Ed Zink Fieldhouse is nothing new.
But on Saturday, a basketball game featuring a Beavercreek team will likely be remembered for a long, long time.
In front of an enthusiastic crowd featuring many elected officials, the Beavercreek Rolling Beavers wheelchair basketball team played its first home game against the Cincinnati Dragons. Coached by James McCormack, James Terpenning, and Richard Drye, the Rolling Beavers consist of district students in grades 2 through 11 and will join the Ohio Interscholastic Adaptive Sports Wheelchair Basketball League next year, competing against other school-based wheelchair teams in the state.
The organization of the team, which began practices in November, was facilitated by Adaptive Sports Ohio, which launched similar teams in six other school districts, mostly in northeastern Ohio.
“Our mission, our goal, is to remove barriers so people with physical disabilities can have a chance to play sports,” said Brian Veverka, director of programs for the organization. “It’s a great opportunity for a lot of people to just come together and just be involved in sports.”
That’s what got Enora McEllroy, 12, to join the team.
“I really love basketball and my mom is trying to find sports for my brother (George) and I to play,” she said. “I really like passing to each other. I really love shooting (the ball) in the hoop. It was really fun.”
McCormack said making sure the 13 team members have fun is “the A, No. 1 part.”
“(Second) is being on a team respecting our teammates and our opponent, and three is doing our best,” he said. “A lot of these children, they’ve never been on an organized sports team ever before, so to be part of this is just wonderful.”
Providing that opportunity is exactly what the coaches, the Beavercreek athletic department, and Adaptive Sports Ohio collectively wanted to do.
“It’s phenomenal,” McCormack said. “We have a large population of individuals with disabilities. It’s something that the community absolutely … not only do they want it, but they need it.”
And Beavercreek put on a heck of a show.
The high school cheerleaders were stationed at each end cheering on the Rolling Beavers, the student section was packed with members of the boys basketball team and Coach Steve Pittman, the girls basketball team hung around after its game against Wayne, fans had signs and banners, and Mayor Bob Stone, County Commissioner Rick Perales, State Rep. Brian Lampton, and Greene County Prosecutor David Hayes, all Beavercreek residents, were in attendance.
“So many times they are the ones that are on the sidelines watching and supporting others, but with the Rolling Beavers (and hopefully soon to be other sports also) that all changes,” said Sarah Flach, whose seven-year-old son Thomas is on the team. “We saw the magic that happened on Saturday when Beavercreek, as a community, showed up to support and cheer on this Rolling Beavers team. It definitely had a lasting impact on these kids. They were still beaming from it at practice on Monday.”
Adaptive Sports Ohio launched the first school-based wheelchair basketball team in 2015 in the Wooster City School District. It then formed the interscholastic wheelchair basketball league and Tallmadge City Schools, Austintown City Schools, Jackson Local Schools, Massillon City Schools and Plain Local Schools (GlenOak) all added teams.
Each team can have up to five players without disabilities, but their focus is usually on setting up their teammates for shots and making sure the ball gets up the court.
Adaptive Sports Ohio provides basketball wheelchairs (about $3,000 each) to school districts as needed, coach training, and all resources needed for a school to launch a team. Teams practice a couple times a week and play one or two games each week, usually on Wednesday and/or Saturday. The state championship is in March.
Members of the team are Enora McEllroy, Thomas Flach, Thomas Kutter, Aiden Conteh, Jack Hoos, Julie Kutter, George McEllroy, Jacob Robertson, Addison Conteh, Emme McCormack, Luke McCormack, Matt Drye, Jacob Terpenning, and Zoey Roll.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.