Let the good times roll
Wheelchair basketball team shoots for national championship
November 19, 2015
The crowd roars, as sophomore Kellan Brown and freshman Megan Stackhouse take the ball down the court, ready to make another basket. The only difference is this team doesn’t run on their feet; instead, they roll their way to victory on wheelchairs.
Meet the Nebraska Red Dawgs, the only wheelchair basketball program in the state.
“It developed out at a wheelchair sports camp that I helped start with in the city of Omaha. After a couple of years, kids wanted to do more, and I made the decision to make it happen and give kids more of an opportunity [to play basketball],” Kult said.
Brown is a player on the Red Dawgs Varsity team, and loves the optimistic environment it gives him. In fact, because of the Red Dawg’s, he’s hoping to become a professional basketball player.
“I’ve always liked, or even loved, basketball! It’s a sport I’ve grown up with, and have always had a fun time playing it,” Brown said.
Stackhouse, a teammate of Brown’s, is also on the varsity team, and has been playing for almost 11 years.
“I was four or five years old when I started. It took only one practice to get me hooked onto playing,” Stackhouse said.
But with the cost of travelling to tournaments out of state and wheelchairs, having enough funds for the sport can be difficult for the Red Dawg families; because of the different way wheelchairs are modeled.
“Not all parents want to travel or can afford to travel so we do a lot of sharing rides, expenses, and hotel rooms. The cost of wheelchairs can be up to $4500-5000 per year,” Kult said.
The players themselves have their own challenges, both on and off the court.
“It’s really hard when a player doesn’t know the next time they’re going to be out on the court. Off the court players deal with blisters and other injuries from playing,” Stackhouse said.
For the coach, it’s finding more kids who are willing to play wheelchair basketball, and ready to create memories that last for a lifetime.
“For finding players it is the goal to build relationships, and learning to go up to the parents and kids once you recognize they have a disability that will qualify. You have to explain what the Red Dawg organization is about and how it will benefit the child,” Kult said.
But, with the support of the team, the basketball players feel as though they are able to show the world there’s more to kids with disabilities.
“Not everyone knows about wheelchair basketball. But the thing is that everyone can do a sport,” Brown said.
By playing wheelchair basketball, the Red Dawgs not only prove their capabilities, but they also create lifelong friendships.
“I believe the team has given me more than I have given them. I feel pride when my players do well on and off the court. I love to see my kids reach their potential and finish high school, go on to college or find employment, find a healthy relationship, and start families,” Kult said.
With the strength of team unity backing them up, the Red Dawgs won three games at their first game up in Minnesota. With time and practice the Red Dawgs hope to bring home a national championship.
“This team has given me not only great friends, but a basis I can lean on for the rest of my life,” Stackhouse said.