by Claire Miller
By the third period of the basketball game, the Department of Kinesiology and Health’s team still hadn’t scored.
“Do you want to win?” their coach asked.
The team responded with enthusiastic cheers and went back out on the court, ready to turn the tide and take their opponents down. They scored six points in the remaining minutes of the period, but it wasn’t enough to shake the other team’s lead.
The KH team recognized that they were playing basketball against a strong opponent: The Atlanta Wolfpack, a five-time state champion wheelchair basketball team.
KH students from Deborah Shapiro’s wheelchair sport class played the Atlanta Wolfpack in a game of wheelchair basketball March 16 at the Georgia State University Recreation Center, which served as a hands-on learning experience for Shapiro’s class.
“Being in a wheelchair and playing basketball is a lot harder than it seems,” said Kandice Mitchell, a KH graduate student who played in the game. “You learn not to look at them as wheelchair athletes, but just as athletes.”
Since starting Shapiro’s class, Mitchell has started working with the Henry County Hurricanes, another wheelchair sport program, and has been moved by her experiences with those athletes.
“This has opened my eyes and I’ve found a new passion,” she said. “I wish everyone could watch and participate in wheelchair sports.”
The basketball game is an event that Shapiro’s students will walk away from with a profound respect for people with disabilities who strive to be top athletes.
“Not only did students learn about the game of wheelchair basketball, but they gained an appreciation for students with disabilities and the time and commitment it takes to be successful in their sport,” Shapiro said.
For more information about the Department of Kinesiology and Health, visit http://education.gsu.edu/kin/index.htm.