Wheelchair Sports Federation | Adaptive Sports Organization
New York City Wheelchair Basketball Tournament Returns on October 5-6, 2013 Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   

The 13th annual Matthew Sapolin Memorial Wheelchair Basketball Tournament will bring the nation's best wheelchair basketball teams to New York City for two days of non-stop action on October 5th and 6th! The tournament, held at Manhattan College's Draddy Gymnasium in the Bronx, is the largest of its kind in the Northeast and has become one of the premier events on the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) schedule. Formerly known as the Mayor's Cup, the event has been renamed to honor Commissioner Matthew Sapolin, who passed away in 2011 after leading the NYC Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities for nearly a decade.

Preliminary rounds will take place Saturday, October 5, from 10AM to 7PM, and the playoffs will begin on Sunday, October 7, at8AM. The championship game will take place on Sunday, October 7, at 11:00AM. Admission is FREE for all spectators and there are volunteer opportunities available on both days of the tournament, so everyone can be involved with this great event in some way!

The Matthew Sapolin Memorial Wheelchair Basketball Tournament is organized by NYC & Company, the City's official marketing, tourism and partnership organization, and supported by the Wheelchair Sports Federation and the Bulova Stetson Fund.

For the most up-to-date information regarding the schedule, rosters, volunteer opportunities, photos, videos and more, please visitwww.Facebook.com/SapolinTournament.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 September 2013 16:35
North Jersey Navigators Earn 2012 Amazing Sport Club Award Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   



The U.S. Olympic Committee announced that the North Jersey Navigators—an adaptive sports team for junior athletes with disabilities—received the 2012 Amazing Sport Club Award, one of seven recipients of the 2013 Paralympic Amazing Awards. Navigators’ Head Coach Jim Cuevas was also awarded the 2012 National Coach of the Year Award for Paralympics Track & Field.


The Navigators provide opportunities for young athletes with disabilities to train in sports, including track and field, road racing, archery, swimming and table tennis. Based in Jersey City, N.J., the team competes on state, national and international levels. Navigator Raymond Martin won four gold medals in four events at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. Kessler Foundation provided seed funding to the team and continues to distribute grants to cover travel and training costs.


Elaine Katz, Vice President of Grants and Special Initiatives at Kessler Foundation, said, “It has been wonderful to be so involved with the Navigators over the years, and to chart their success since they started out as a small, grassroots program and now watch them compete as a large team. We are proud of their accomplishments and happy they are getting the recognition they deserve.”


Upon his son joining the team 12 years ago, Cuevas got involved with the Navigators when there was just four members on the team. They obtained funding and partnered with other organizations to gain resources necessary to expand the team. “The past two years have been excellent for us and it has been an amazing experience to see our athletes grow up as independent and productive individuals. Some are developing to a point where they can compete at the next level at International competitions and even the Paralympic Games,” he said.


The Paralympic Amazing Awards honor individuals and organizations that make a significant impact on the Paralympic Movement in the U.S. Winners reflect success in grassroots development, elite performance, sponsorships and telling the Paralympic story. In return, more opportunities are provided to people with physical disabilities in the U.S. Award categories include Amazing Leader Award, Amazing Sport Club Award, Amazing Investor Award, Amazing Impact Award, Amazing Mentor Award and Amazing Salute Award.


About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit 


Lauren Scrivo, 973.324.8384973.768.6583 - c, 
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Carolann Murphy, 973.324.8382
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Lauren Scrivo, MA

Communications Specialist

Kessler Foundation

300 Executive Drive, Suite 70

West Orange, NJ 07052

Office 973.324.8384

Cell 973.768.6583

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 18:20
Wheelchair Basketball Star Heads For Maccabiah Games, Harvard Law Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   

 07/16/2013 - 08:28


Emily Seelenfreund held a demonstration at Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ on July 2. Ron Kaplan 

Emily Seelenfreund  was diagnosed at birth with a disease that made her vulnerable to broken bones, and was enrolled in physical therapy at 6 months. By the time she was 5, the Hoboken native was outfitted with a wheelchair that helped her get around and was an active competitor in track and field events for the disabled. By the time she was 11, she began playing wheelchair basketball. 

Within two years she found she was really good at the sport. It brought her championships, an athletic scholarship, and the chance to travel “all over the U.S.,” to Canada and Australia.

And next week, to Israel.

Seelenfreund, a 22-year-old guard who has “a pretty mild type” of osteogenesis imperfecta (aka Brittle Bone Disease, a congenital collagen deficiency that affects an estimated 20,000-50,000 people in this country), will be a member of the U.S. co-ed wheelchair basketball team in the Maccabiah Games. “I’m a good defender,” she says. “I’m very competitive.”

Seelenfreund will leave Israel two days before the end of the games to return to her job as a third-grade teacher, under the auspices of Teach for America, on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico.

Like many people in wheelchairs, she has strong arms. She does some weightlifting, but most of her strength comes from pushing her chair “every day.”

Like other wheelchair athletes, she will travel to Israel with a pair of chairs — one, which she uses daily on the street, and one, specially outfitted, for basketball.

Like other wheelchair basketball players, she’s strapped into her sports chair, to prevent her from falling out of it in case of a collision.

She has already suffered a broken arm from playing basketball. “It was just a broken arm. Anyone could hurt themselves playing.” She recovered, and went back to the court. How many other times has she broken bones? “I haven’t kept count.”

People who learn of her athletic background are often surprised, Seelenfreund says. “Most people haven’t heard of wheelchair basketball.”

The most-common question she hears: “Can you dribble?” Of course she can. She can also shoot, from as far away as the three-point line, and she can pass.

People sometimes ask, “Can you dunk?” Silly question. Of course she can’t.

Seelenfreund responds with a question: “Can you imagine my wheelchair flying 10 feet in the air?”

Seelenfreund is also a certified scuba diver.

A 4.0-GPA political science graduate of the University of Alabama (one of four colleges in the U.S. that offer both men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball programs), Seelenfreund will attend law school at Harvard University after she finishes her teaching assignment in New Mexico.

For the last month she has been back with her parents in New Jersey, training for her upcoming competition at the Jewish Community Center in West Orange. Her family is active in the United Synagogue of Hoboken congregation, where Seelenfreund also served as a summer camp counselor; she became bat mitzvah at Temple Sharey Tefilo Israel in South Orange, whose sanctuary and bimah were wheelchair accessible.

This year she hosted a seder for some friends on Passover at her home in Gallup.

Seelenfreund, who’s been in Israel twice before — once on a family trip, once on Birthright — was recruited to the Maccabiah team by an official whose specializes in disabled athletes. She accepted right away. “I love to travel. I love Israel.”

She was an alternate on the U.S. women’s basketball team in the Paralympics last year, but didn’t get to go to London.

The 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro are on her mind, Seelenfreund says. “I would love it.”

Steve Lipman is a staff writer at The Jewish Week.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 17:14
New York Mets And Major League Baseball Reach Out To Wheelchair Athletes Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   


Specialized Chairs Make Rounding The Bases Much Easier


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With all of the excitement surrounding the upcoming Major League Baseball All Star Game the timing was perfect for athletes from the Wheelchair Sports Federation to put their own skills on display on Sunday.

These stars can hit, field, and round the bases, and having adapted the game to their wheelchairs, nothing can slow them down.

“I’ve been playing wheelchair sports for 21-years. I lost my leg in the United States Navy,” Edy Lopez told CBS 2′s Tracee Carrasco.

Players from the federation took the field in specialized sports wheel chairs on Sunday to play an exhibition game as part of the All Star Fan Fest.

“I have spinabifida, so walking, I can still walk around but my mobility isn’t that great. Walking gets a little tiring,” Bryan Genovese said.


“It’s definitely a lot quicker, compared to my normal everyday chair,” Genovese said, “I don’t have to worry about falling over sideways if I have to make a quick turn.”Genovese and other athletes received the chairs as a donation from the New York Mets and Major League Baseball.


Competing in wheelchair athletics can be very expensive, the donated chairs give the athletes a chance to go out and play ball.

“These athletes, now will have these chairs to train, to compete,” Wheelchair Sports Federation President, John Hamre said.

The players hoped that the donation would raise more awareness for their sport, the federation supports athletes around the country.




For another story at MLB.com, click below 


Last Updated on Friday, 19 July 2013 18:40
13th Annual Jana Hunsaker Memorial Wheelchair Tennis Tournament (NY) Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   


Over 70 wheelchair tennis players participated in the 13th Annual Jana Hunsaker Memorial Wheelchair Tennis Tournament at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park from Thursday June 6th to Sunday June 9th, 2012.  The big winner was Men's Open Singles Winner Stephen Welch who continues his winning ways in New York City and Women's Open Winner Natalia Mayara. The list of all the winners is as follows:


Men's Open Winner:  Stephen Welch

Men's Open Finalist: Daniel Rodrigues

Men's Open Consolation Winner: Paul Moran

Men's Open Doubles Winners:  Rafael Medeiros and Daniel Rodrigues

Men's Open Doubles Finalists: Stephen Welch and Joel Dembe

Men's A Winner: Matthew DeVlieger

Men's A Finalist: Fernando Dibujes

Men's A Consolation Winner: William Lehr

Men's A Doubles Winners: Matthew DeVlieger and Jerry Newman

Men's A Doubles Finalists: Cristobal Rivera and Jongchul Sah

Men's B Winner:  Stu Contant

Men's B Finalist: Patrick Donaghey

Men's B Consolation Winner: Ralffy Diaz

Men's B Doubles Winners: Jerry Russell and Ralffy Diaz

Men's B Doubles Finalists: Jose Gomez and David Kelly

Men's C Winner: James Swanson

Men's C Finalist: Henry Hasson

Men's C Consolation Winner: Signe Dietrichson

Men's C Doubles Winners: Thomas Dodd and John Pelletier

Men's C Doubles Finalists: Signe Dietrichson and Nathan Melnyk

Men's Quad Open Winner:  Francois Trawalter

Men's Quad Open Finalist: Marc McLean

Men's Quad Open Consolation Winner: Julio Rueda

Men's Quad Open Doubles Winners: Francois Trawalter and Kevin Whalen

Men's Quad Open Doubles Finalists: David Jordan and Marc McLean

Women's Open Winner: Natalia Mayara

Women's Open Finalist: Rejane Candida

Women's Open Consolation Winner: Katherina Stuteville

Women's Open Doubles Winners: Karin Korb and Katherine Stuteville

Women's Open Doubles Finalists: Natalia Mayara and Rejane Candida

George McFadden Spirit Award - Leon Magnes

Al Youakim Sportsmanship Award - David Gant 


With over $10,000 in prize money awarded to the winners, all participants competed at the highest level and enjoyed playing at one of the best Tennis Facilities in the World.  For more information about Wheelchair Tennis, please visit -   http://www.usta.com/Play-Tennis/Wheelchair-Tennis/Wheelchair/?intloc=headernavsub

Last Updated on Friday, 14 June 2013 23:38
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