Tacoma hosts 3-day wheelchair rugby tournament

"Slam on the Sound," a wheelchair rugby tournament in Tacoma, will bring together six teams and more than 80 athletes,...

“Slam on the Sound,” a wheelchair rugby tournament in Tacoma, will bring together six teams and more than 80 athletes, support staff, and referees from Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, and Vancouver (British Columbia) to compete in games throughout the weekend of Oct. 7-9 at Mount Tahoma High School.

Wheelchair Rugby is a fast-paced, competitive team sport played by quadriplegic athletes. It was first introduced in Canada three decades ago, under the original name ‘Murderball,’ named for its aggressive, full-contact nature that combines strategy, power, and quickness. The sport was made famous in the 2005 documentary ‘Murderball,’ and was granted full medal status for the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney, Australia. The game is played indoors on a regulation sized basketball court and the players are in reinforced, ‘gladiator-style’ chairs. All quad rugby athletes have some form of disability with a loss of function to both upper and lower limbs. The majority of players have experienced some type of spinal cord injury, although there are eligible players with other types of disability. The motto of the United States Quad Rugby Association is “Smashing Stereotypes One Hit at a Time.”

The three-day event in Tacoma marks the start of the wheelchair rugby season for 2011/2012, with over half the teams coming to town from out of the region. “It is the only large tournament in the Pacific Northwest this year,” said Seattle Slam coach and player Curt Chapman. Along with the Seattle Slam, teams participating will include the Portland Pounders, Sierra Storm, California Bluez, BC “A,” and BC “B.”

The US Quad Rugby Team won gold in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, where Portland Pounders player Will Groulx won most valuable player. The tournament had previously been held in Seattle but was attracted to Tacoma by the Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Commission. “We are very happy to be working with the Tacoma Sports Commission and Metroparks Tacoma, and we’re excited to show our great sport, athletes, and staff to a new community,” said team manager Mike Clay.

The games times are Friday at 3 p.m., 5:30 p.m., and 7 p.m.; Saturday at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.; and Sunday at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Cost is suggested at five dollars.

For more information on the team, visit http://www.seattleslam.org .

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