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Junior Wheel Blazers look to win it all during trip to national championships

The Junior Wheel Blazers are on the trail to Wichita and the wheelchair basketball national championships for the first time in five years.
Published: Mar. 27, 2022 at 10:46 PM PDT
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BEAVERTON, Ore. (KPTV) - The Junior Wheel Blazers are on the trail to Wichita and the wheelchair basketball national championships for the first time in five years.

“You can tell that we hadn’t been playing together for a while just because the chemistry wasn’t there,” Scappoose High School senior Liam Frobisher said.

It’s been a long two pandemic years for all of us, the Wheel Blazers included.

“I think that is part of the reason why we’re so determined to comeback stronger this year,” Central Catholic High School senior Peyton Walker said. “Because our team really is an underdog.”

Adaptive Sports Northwest is all about inclusion and this team is real on wheels.

“It has literally changed my entire life,” Walker said.

Playing with a disability together.

“I started when I was 12,” Walker said. “I kind of accepted at that point that I was never going to be able to have that same level of competitiveness as my sister and my friends that I would see. This has just completely changed my perspective of that.”

It has also helped teammates become more comfortable.

“For a while, I had been the only kid in certain situations who used a chair,” Central Catholic High School senior Rowyn O’Connor said. “I think that commonality really helped me not be so nervous.”

Frobisher said the team forms a close bond.

“Just being able to have those shared experiences of just stuff we’ve got to deal with,” Frobisher said. “Whether we’re a wheelchair user every day or we’re not. We have to deal with stuff that not everyone else has to deal with.”

Let it ride and let the aggression roll.

“My coach always tells me that I can be whoever I want to be on the court,” O’Connor said. “I don’t have to be nice, polite Rowyn, I can be Rowyn who yells all the time.”

Head coach Kim Michel has the kids fine-tuned and ready for their own ‘One Shining Moment’ of March Madness.

“It’s the best of the best so it’s going to be very tough and you’re going to have to work,” Tigard High School sophomore Tyler Jenkins said.

Frobisher said the national championships will be a big moment for the team.

“We’re not going to waste this last opportunity we have together,” he said. “This is kind of like our farewell. I think we want to leave something behind for the future and for the younger kids coming up. I want to go out strong with the friends I made.”

The national championships take place this upcoming week.