16-Team National Championship Wheelchair Rugby Tournament Field at Ability360 is Set

By Giving Hope ArizonaApril 8, 2018

Sixteen of the nation’s top wheelchair rugby teams from 11 states, including three former national champions, have qualified for the 2018 United States Quad Rugby Association (USQRA) national championship when the Ability360 Phoenix Heat will defend its 2017 Division I title, April 19-21 at Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center, 5031 E. Washington St. in Phoenix. 

Among the teams are the 2017 national champions Ability360 Phoenix Heat, three-time national champions Texas Stampede (2004, 2005, 2008) and the 2009 Division II national champion Minnesota Steelheads

Presented by VMI (www.vantagemobility.com), one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of wheelchair van conversions, the teams in the tournament’s two divisions are:

  • DIVISION I: Ability360 Phoenix Heat, University of Arizona Wildcats, Minnesota Steelheads (Twin Cities), Portland Pounders (Oregon), Texas Stampede, Atlanta (Sheperd Center) and Denver Harlequins.
  • DIVISION II: NorCal Quake (Northridge, CA), Grand Rapids Thunder (Michigan), California Sierra Storm, Chicago Bears, Northridge Knights (California), Kansas City AbilityKC Revolution and Philadelphia Magee Eagles.
  • The Phoenix Heat are led by world champion gold medalist and coach Scott Hogsett of Chandler and include Joe Jackson (Chandler), Ernie Chun (Phoenix), Obanel Serrano (Prescott), Ben Goss (Dunstable, MA), Derek Paral (New York City), Kory Puderbaugh (Boise, ID), Jeremiah Weise (Elko, NV), Shin Shimakawa (Tokorozawa, Saitama, Japan), Brian Sperle (Hayward, CA), Nick Springer (New York City) and Jake Zunich (Silver City, N.M).

There is no admission charge to watch the tournament, which begins at 8 a.m. Thursday, April 19, Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21.  Last matches on Thursday and Friday begin at 6:30 p.m. Division championship games will be scheduled on Saturday.

Wheelchair rugby is a summer Paralympic sport played in more than 25 countries worldwide. Originally called “Murderball,” and the subject of a 2005 Academy Award-nominated documentary by the same name, the United States name “quad rugby” is based on the fact that all players must have disabilities that include at least some loss of function in at least three limbs.  Most athletes are medically classified as quadriplegic.

The game is played indoors on a hardwood court and includes elements of wheelchair basketball, ice hockey, handball and rugby. A contact sport, it has little in common with the rugby football except for the name.  The sport is governed by the United States Quad Rugby Association, which is celebrating its 30thanniversary this year.

Championship tournament sponsorship opportunities are available.  For information, contact Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center Vice President and General Manager Gus LaZear at gusl@ability360.orgor by calling (602) 386-4566.
For more information, visit www.ability360.org.