Wheelchair Sports Federation | Adaptive Sports Organization
20th Annual Al Youakim Wheelchair Basketball Tournament Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   

 

written by Katie Corcoran
photos by Michael A. Clubine
 

HACKENSACK, NJ – Four teams have competed in the 20th Annual Al Youakim Wheelchair Basketball Tournament held Saturday and Sunday, November 1 and 2, 2014 in Hackensack, NJ -- NY Nets, Bulova Nets, Nassau Kings, New England Blazers.


The Al Youakim Wheelchair Basketball Tournament has become a regular event in the Wheelchair Sports Federation’s basketball season.  Its conception predates the organization -- it began as a celebration for a man who dedicated much of his life to promoting and organizing wheelchair sports.

 

 


Al Youakim’s brother, Peter, was paralyzed while fighting in World War II. When Peter returned home, the brothers continued to play basketball, eventually starting a wheelchair basketball team, with players participating in their hospital chairs. Wheelchair basketball and other sports began to grow in popularity across the country, and Al became associated with the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association (EPVA) and later inspired the development of the Wheelchair Sports Federation.


In 1995, to celebrate the start of Al’s 50th season with wheelchair basketball, the EPVA organized a basketball tournament with participants from all across the country. This was first of what would become the annual event.

 
 

The final game leading into this year's Championship games was a battle of the Nets (NY vs. Bulova) and remained even for most of the first half, with the scored tied at 18 a piece with five and half minutes to play until halftime. Bulova’s Jim Jeffreys scored a couple of baskets late in the half to help give his team a 26-18 lead. But NY opened the second half strong, scoring eight unanswered points, until James (#20) of Bulova snapped the streak. His teammate Dalmau (#13) soon drew a foul and completed the three point play to bring the score to 30-28, Bulova. But the NY Nets refused to quit, taking the lead mid way through the half (35-32). Bulova soon took back control of the tempo and the lead, with an 11-3 run in the last four and half minutes of the game, to beat their NY namesake by a final score of 54-44.

 

 


On the heels of their loss to Bulova, the NY Nets faced off against the New England Blazers. NY led by one point mid way through the first half, before going on a 10-0 run for the next six minutes. The Blazers were able to close the gap a bit, heading into halftime down by seven points. They took the lead five minutes into the second half and never looked back, extending their lead to double digits and defeating the NY Nets by a final score of 49-37, and securing third place in the tournament.

 

 


The defending champions, Nassau Kings, met the Bulova Nets in the tournament’s championship game. The contest was close throughout the first half, and the score was tied at 28 at halftime.  However, Bulova gained a quick lead early in the second half, scoring eight points in the first two and half minutes. But the Kings fought back, and with the help of a three pointer from #23, regained the lead 42-38 with 15 minutes remaining. They continued to add to their lead, eventually extending it to an 11 point margin with about five minutes left to play. This remained the difference until the end – the Nassau Kings defeated the Bulova Nets by a final score of 59-48 to win the championship.


Chris St. Remy (Nassau Kings) received the Mike Lione Most Valuable Player Award and Carlos Ruiz (NY Nets) received the Freddy Jones Sportsmanship Award.  Awards were also given to CJ Johnson (NE Blazers), Lauren Konetsky (NY Nets), Roger Shelton (Nassau Kings), Jerome Simones (NE Blazers), Chris St. Remy (Nassau Kings), and Steven Yedlock (Bulova Nets) for athletic accomplishments in their class at the tournament.


About the Author: Katie Corcoran is a member of the Wheelchair Sports Federation media team.  The all-volunteer media team consists of professional writers and photographers who donate their time and expertise to showcase the athleticism of disabled U.S. athletes and highlight their world class achievements in adapted sports.  The Wheelchair Sports Federation is a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for adults and youth with disabilities to play sports recreationally and competitively.  For more information, visit www.WheelchairSportsFederation.org.


PHOTO CAPTIONS:
All photos by Michael A. Clubine
(larger resolution available upon request)
 
Chris St Remy
"Chris St. Remy (Nassau Kings) keeps the ball from Mark James (Bulova Nets)"

Carlos Ruiz
"Carlos Ruiz (NY Nets) received the Freddy Jones Sportsmanship Award at the 20th Annual Al Youakim Wheelchair Basketball Tournament"

Lauren Konetsky
"Lauren Konetsky (NY Nets) passes the ball at the 20th Annual Al Youakim Wheelchair Basketball Tournament"

Luis Dalmau
"Luis Dalmau (Bulova Nets) prepares to pass the ball to teammate, Mark James, at the 20th Annual Al Youakim Wheelchair Basketball Tournament"
 
Group
"Four teams gathered to compete in the 20th Annual Al Youakim Wheelchair Basketball Tournament"
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 November 2014 03:08
 
Twin Passions, Singular Drive Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   

St. Anthony's brothers born two minutes apart face life in different ways, but find common ground in sports.

Twins, born two minutes apart. That’s Chris and Joshua Bacon.

Fate made them different. Yet they share a bond few could comprehend. 

The St. Anthony’s High School seniors from Dix Hills will announce their college choices Wednesday on National Signing Day. The twins will be joined by several other Friars, who will make commitments in football, soccer and track.

Chris Jr., the eldest, talks about what it’s like to play basketball at MSG. And his face lights up. Like so many teenagers, he’s found himself in sports.

Joshua is an accomplished athlete in his own right. He’s a kicker who hopes to someday nail the game-winning field goal in the ACC championship game.

But Chris is sitting in a wheelchair as he speaks, so the words grow weighty with every syllable. The journey takes on new meaning. Every inch forward awakens fresh pain in his shoulders and takes tread off his wheels.

These wheels have seen the miles.

“Nothing’s ever stopped him, no matter the obstacle,” Joshua said. 

Chris Jr. was born with segmental spinal dysgenesis, a rare abnormality where a segment of the spine and spinal cord fails to develop properly. He underwent 15 surgeries by the fifth grade.

“We spent our whole childhood in hospitals,” said Joshua, by his brother’s side the entire way. That still holds true today. 

“They look after one another all the time,” St. Anthony’s Athletic Director Don Buckley said of the brothers. “They are very committed, very focused on what they want.” 

Chris never imagined he wouldn’t play sports. Sibling rivalry stoked his competitive fires. 

“We’re both passionate about what we do,” Chris Jr. said. “We’re competitive against each other. No matter where we are.” 

There was sled hockey first. Then Chris took up wheelchair basketball. That was four years ago. When his brother wasn’t grabbing rebounds, he was manning a spare wheelchair and battling him head-to-head.

They began their high school careers at Commack before transferring to the South Huntington parochial school as juniors.

“We’ve spent every single day of our lives together,” Joshua explained. “He’s my other half.”

Joshua, a gifted defender in club soccer, became a crossover standout in football. St. Anthony’s has developed a reputation for churning out elite kickers. After converting 18 of 20 extra points last fall Joshua hopes to be the latest as a preferred walk-on at the University of Miami.

He’s aiming high. But when your brother defies the odds every day, how can you not be inspired to expect more from yourself?

Veteran coaches aren't immune to it. Rich Reichert, the winningest football coach in Suffolk history, has a weight room full of strongmen. He sees the remarkable every day. 

The image that stands out in his mind? Chris Jr. doing chin ups still strapped to his wheelchair, 20-pound weights added for good measure. The wheelchair goes airborne with every rep.

“He’s doing sets of pull ups in the wheelchair,” Reichert said. “Unbelievable. Really hard working kid with a great attitude. It’s wonderful to see.” 

Limitations don’t define Chris Jr.

He started a wheelchair basketball program over the summer at the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He’s a member of the New York Rollin’ Knicks, a wheelchair basketball team sponsored by the NBA franchise. He was one of the youngest players invited to try out for the under-23 national team in Colorado Springs, Colo. 

And while he didn’t make the cut, Chris Jr. is a Paralympian hopeful in 2016 and beyond.

That’s why Wednesday Chris Jr. will also announce his college choice. The University of Alabama has one of top adaptive athletic programs in the nation. Chris Bacon Jr. will accept a scholarship to go there. He’ll play college basketball and study business.  

“A lot of kids don’t realize how hard it is being in a wheelchair, having a disability,” Chris said. “It makes me look at life a lot better knowing I have such a great opportunity [ahead].”

 
2014 Matthew Sapolin Memorial Wheelchair Basketball Tournament Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
 
The 2014 Matthew Sapolin Memorial Wheelchair Basketball Tournament brought the nation’s best wheelchair basketball teams to Horace Mann School in the Bronx for two days of action-packed games. The Dallas Wheelchair Mavericks won the Championship Division final against the New York Rollin’ Knicks by a score of 68-45, and Jared Arambula (Dallas) took home the MVP award. The Division III final was a tightly contested match but in the end, the NRH Ambassadors (Washington, DC) edged out the Cleveland Wheelchair Cavs by a score of 65-62, and Harsh Thakkar (NRH) was named the MVP.  The exciting action kicked off on Saturday with a full slate of 14 games in the division preliminary rounds. The Cleveland Wheelchair Cavs (3-0) were the only Division III team to emerge undefeated from the first day of action, earning them the #1 seed in the East Division. In the West Division, the day ended with a three-way tie at 2-1 between the Nassau Kings (Uniondale, NY), Magee Spokesmen (Philadelphia, PA) and the NRH Ambassadors, with the Ambassadors ultimately earning the top seed through tiebreakers. The Bulova Nets (Hackensack, NJ; 2-1) and Brooklyn Nets (Brooklyn, NY; 1-2) earned the #2 and #3 seeds in the West Division, respectively, safely advancing to the playoffs on Sunday. The New England Blazers (Randolph, MA) and Connecticut Spokebenders (New Britain, CT) were unable to advance out of their respective divisions, as the tournament’s fierce competition left both teams winless 
after Saturday’s games. In the Championship Division, the Dallas Wheelchair Mavericks cruised to two victories over the New York Knicks (Manhattan, NY), setting up a hotly contested rematch for the title on Sunday.
 
On Sunday, the playoff action started to heat up with the Bulova Nets defeating the Magee Spokesmen by a score of 45-38 and the Nassau Kings upending the Brooklyn Nets by a score of 79-25 in the quarterfinals. The semifinal round saw both top seeds come away with victories as the Cleveland Cavs knocked off the Bulova Nets by a score of 53-33, and the NRH Ambassadors beat the Nassau Kings by a score of 68-49. The top two Division III teams in the tournament, the Cavs and the Ambassadors, were now set to meet later that day for the Division III title.
 
The Championship Division final needed to be decided by a matchup that was a rematch of the 2014 NWBA National Championship game between the Dallas Wheelchair Mavericks and the NY Rollin’ Knicks. Both team rosters were stacked with some of the best players in the world. The Knicks featured Patrick Anderson and David Eng who are members of the Canadian National team, which has won gold in three of the last four Paralympics. The Mavericks’ roster included five players who have competed on 
the international level: Jason Nelms, Jared Arambula, Jorge Sanchez and Aaron Gouge have played for the USA National team while George McPhail played for the Australian National team.  The game got off to a fast start and maintained a lightning quick pace throughout the first half. The Mavericks jumped out to an early lead thanks to many costly turnovers by the Knicks and the play of Jared Arambula (Mavs) who was able to convert those turnovers into points on a regular basis. 
 
 Patrick Anderson (Knicks) did all he could to keep the Knicks in the game despite the turnovers, but the Mavericks made sure to double-team him whenever possible. David Eng (Knicks) looked to pick up the slack for the Knicks by pouring in 11 points, but at the end of the first half, the Mavs held a 34-25 lead. The Mavericks started strong in the second half and extended their lead to 41-25 thanks to some sharp shooting by Jorge Sanchez and Jared Arambula. David Eng and Patrick Anderson continued to score for the Knicks despite the Mavericks’ tough defense, but the Mavs’ trio of Arambula, Sanchez and Jason Nelms had an answer for every Knick basket in the second half. The Mavs maintained their lead and when the final buzzer sounded, the scoreboard read 68-45 in favor of the Dallas Wheelchair Mavericks.  Jared Armabula took home MVP honors after scoring 18 points in the championship game. Patrick Anderson from the Knicks was selected to the All-Tournament team after a great performance throughout the tournament. At the awards ceremony following the game, the players on each team were presented their awards by former NY Knick first-round draft pick John Wallace. 
 
The Division III final was up next and both teams were ready to put the finishing touches on a great tournament. Both teams came out in the first half with great ball movement and tough defense. It was evident early on that the Ambassadors’ duo of Kevin Atherley and Julius Ellerbe would be tough for the Cavs to contain as both players scored in the double digits in the first half. The Cavs had a duo of their own in Darron Lewis and USA National team member Will Waller who each scored over 10 points in the opening half. At the end of the first half, the Ambassadors held on to a 34-33 lead over the Cavs in a game that looked like it would come down to the final buzzer.
 
Harsh Thakkar (Ambassadors) had a relatively quiet first half with just four points, but in the second half he turned it up a notch, scoring 19 points to help his team hold their lead over the Cavs. Paul Zinn (Cavs) also came out strong in the second half scoring 14 points and helped cut the deficit to five with just under eight minutes remaining. The Cavs were able to make it a one point game with less than three minutes left, and missed free throws by the Ambassadors kept it that way until the last minute. The Cavs were unable to capitalize on the Ambassadors’ struggles from the free throw line, and in the final minute, Harsh Thakkar came through with a clutch basket to give his team a three point lead. The final buzzer sounded with the Ambassadors on top 65-62. Thakkar won the MVP plaque while his teammate Julius Ellerbe was named to the All-Tournament Team along with Will Waller (Cavs), Paul Zinn (Cavs), Steve Yedlock (Bulova Nets) and Chris St. Remy (Nassau Kings). 
Last Updated on Thursday, 16 October 2014 01:56
 
Youth Sled Rangers Go Wild in Minnesota Print E-mail
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By Edward Friedman

 

            The New York Youth Sled Rangers had quite an exciting weekend. On September 26th to 28th, 2014, the team, sponsored by the Wheelchair Sports Federation as well as the National Hockey League’s New York Rangers, traveled to play the Minnesota Wild Junior Sled Hockey Team in a three game tournament.  The Sled Rangers cater to physically disabled youth, and range in age from 5 to 21. It was an action-packed tournament for the kids as they played 3 games over a two day span. The team continued to adjust and improve as the tournament went on. Coach Victor Calise said of the weekend, “It was great to see the kids develop. There was a major difference between the first and last game. Having them realize their potential, and seeing them excel at it is something that’s truly amazing.” The Rangers came out strong, but the Wild, with eight years of experience, ultimately outmatched the newly formed team.

 

Despite the loss, the Rangers players came out with smiles on their faces after an exciting trip.  They visited the Mall of America, and got to scrimmage during the 2nd intermission of the NHL Wild versus Jets game in front of 10,000 people. The Sled Rangers would like to thank the Wheelchair Sports Federation, the New York Rangers, and Pine River Capital Management for making the trip possible as well as the Minnesota Wild and their Sled Hockey program for their hospitality throughout. They look forward to continue traveling and improving their skills on the ice. For more information, and how to get involved please visit the team website at http://www.wsfsledrangers.org

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 October 2014 02:16
 
14th Annual Major League Wheelchair Softball Tournament Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   

 

 

This past week, the 14th Annual Major League Wheelchair Softball Tournament took place at the the home of MLB NY Mets , Citi Field in Flushing NY.  4 Wheelchair Softball Teams sponsored by Major League Baseball franchises competed.  The RIC Cubs, New England Rolling Red Sox, New York Mets and New York Yankees fought for the coveted "Kelly Cup", named after Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association and United Spinal Association’s' former Executive Director, Jerry Kelly.

 

 

 

After playing 9 games over two days, the RIC Cubs beat the New England Rolling Red Sox to win the 14th Annual Major League Wheelchair Softball Tournament for the 2nd consecutive year. NY Mets great John Franco also came by to offer his support.

 

 

 

On behalf of the players, coaches and Wheelchair Sports Federation, we'd like to thank Danielle Parillo, the NY Mets, MLB, and NY City Parks & Recreation for their continued support.  Without their help, we could not have a premiere Wheelchair Softball Tournament in the New York City area and one of the better events for Adaptive Sports in the United States.

 

2014 Final Results:

1st Place - RIC Cubs

2nd Place – New England Rolling Red Sox

3rd Place - New York Mets

4th Place - New York Yankees

 

2014 All-Tournament Team Awards

Pitcher - George Norton - New England Rolling Red Sox

Catcher - George Taborsky - NY Mets

1st Base - Dave Deas - NY Mets

2nd Base - Hector Bruno - RIC Cubs

3rd Base - Jason Soricelli - NY Mets

Shortstop - Jorge Alfaro - RIC Cubs

Left Field - Joe LeMar - New England Rolling Red Sox

Centerfield - Steve Davis - New England Rolling Red Sox

Short Field - Tony Fitzgerald - NY Yankees

Right Field - Felix Castillo - NY Mets

Best Quad - Mike Guilbault - New England Rolling Red Sox

Sportsmanship - Steve Summer - New England Rolling Red Sox

Tie- Best Rookie - Dashay Torry - RIC Cubs & Pat Anderson - NY Mets

Most Valuable Player - Alex Para - RIC Cubs

 

Al Youakim Volunteer & Spirit Award – Susan Stiefvatr


Thank you to all our sponsors and volunteers.


We look forward to seeing everyone next year at the 15th Annual.

 

Photos by Stephen Tang -   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 September 2014 20:26
 
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