Basketball is not a sport for everyone.
The sport is a community for the Nebraska Red Dawgs.
The Nebraska Red Dawgs wheelchair-basketball team played members the Americas Guardians Motorcycle Club at an exhibition game at Papillion La Vista South High School Saturday, January 29.
The Nebraska Red Dawgs, a coed Nebraska Adaptive Sports youth basketball team, are prep and varsity teams that participate in the youth divisions the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.
Its regional members include players from the Omaha and Lincoln metro areas, as well as from as far as Sioux Center, Iowa, and Hastings, Nebraska.
Patrick Christiansen, Head Coach explained that many people are unable to bring together enough players to create a team for wheelchair basketball.
Red Dawgs players must travel for tournaments during the playing season (August to April) in order to compete against other teams.
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The Americas Guardians Motorcycle Club, a law enforcement/public safety club, was founded in 2007 and includes firefighters, law enforcement officers, military veterans, and medical personnel.
Halftime entertainment was provided by Dancing Beyond Limits, an adaptive dancing nonprofit that performed for the crowd.
The Nebraska Red Dawgs are supported by admission fees.
Christiansen explained that the team is funded by Nebraska Adaptive Sports, the non-profit parent organization. Some of the expenses are also covered by the players’ families.
To make team travel possible, the team must raise additional funds. This will be used to pay for equipment and maintenance of its sports wheelchairs. These have rigid frames and angled tires for greater stability.
Christiansen stated that the Red Dawgs always look for new players.
For those who have permanent lower-body impairments, school-aged boys and girls can play wheelchair basketball.
Players are not required to show dependence on a wheelchair or other mobility aid equipment during certification.
Youth wheelchair basketball can be played on a regulation court following NCAA men’s basketball rules with some exceptions.
Prep teams (youths between 13 and 17 years old) use a basket 18 inches lower than normal and a smaller ball 1 inch in diameter. Varsity teams, which are teenage youth, use a standard ball height and hoop height.
The Nebraska Red Dawgs include three students from Papillion La Vista community schools: Keelan Irving–Gass, Quinn Hoover (Papillion Middle School), Caiden Hansen and Kaiden McCormick both from Bellevue. Caleb Miller from St. Mary’s Catholic Schools in Bellevue was a member of the Americas Guardians Motorcycle Club.
Two Gretna players are also part of the Nebraska Red Dawgs team: Hayden Turner (left) and Kamden Borts (right).
Red Dawgs players wore Tshirts with original artwork by Dan Wondra, Papillion graphic artist, on Jan. 29,
The Nebraska Red Dawgs will host a tournament at Liberty Middle School in Papillion on February 5 and 6.
The team hosts its annual tournament at UNO. However, COVID restrictions mean that there are no gatherings. Therefore, the team had to search for an alternative location.
This regional wheelchair basketball tournament draws youth teams from as far as Texas, Minnesota, and even Texas.
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