On The Ball Tournament Keeps Hoop Dreams Alive for All
The Edinboro University Fighting Scots headline the second annual On The Ball tournament.
Sunday, Jan. 28
Ball is life — or, at the very least, it can offer those with a disability a new lease on life. Since first being contested in the 1940s, wheelchair basketball (formerly known as "wheelchair netball"), has evolved into a popular recreational, intercollegiate, and Paralympic sport around the globe. The sport retains all the rules of standard basketball, with slight tweaks in regards to mobility— a competitor may not touch his or her wheels more than twice after dribbling or receiving the ball (or five times, if adhering to modified NBA guidelines). Otherwise, the game remains the same — find your spot on a roughly 90-by-50 foot court, take your shot, and hope to hear the mellifluous swish of the ball through a hoop suspended 10 feet above the playing field.
Nearby Edinboro University just so happens to feature some of the better players in the nation at the collegiate level. Together with local nonprofit Mission Empower, they will strive to inspire a new generation of differently-abled athletes with the second annual On The Ball tournament at Erie Insurance Arena. The marquee event will pit the Fighting Scots wheelchair basketball team against (able-bodied) Erie community members in a full-court, 5-on-5 matchup. Before the featured attraction, attendees can participate in a 3-on-3, half-court pick-up game to lend unique perspective to the impressive feats para-athletes are able to accomplish. A 50-50 raffle and gift basket giveaways will also be held.
Through it all, Mission Empower (which advocates for the education and inclusion of Erie youth of all ability levels) hopes to dissolve barriers, subvert misconceptions, foster community and build a basis for teamwork moving forward. Strip away all the labels and it's (still) nothing but net. — Matt Swanseger
11:45 a.m. // 809 French St. // $12 (includes admission to the Erie BayHawks game versus the Lakeland Magic at 4 p.m.) // 825-0788