AUBURN UNIVERSITY – The Auburn University wheelchair basketball team will play its first regular season game in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association Intercollegiate Division on Saturday, Nov. 10, in Augusta, Ga.
The three-year-old program’s shift to the intercollegiate division is a move forward for the team, which began competing in Division III as a community team including students and non-students. Though they are not affiliated with the Athletics Department or the NCAA, Auburn’s wheelchair basketball team, which is now comprised completely of student-athletes, will compete with other college and university teams around the country. There are just seven other universities in the Intercollegiate Division this year.
“Competing in the Intercollegiate Division means not only a step up in the competition, but also a more authentic student-athlete experience for our team,” said team member and co-founder Jared Rehm. “It is a unique experience to play in this kind of competition.”
Auburn’s team is led by Rehm, who is a biomechanics doctoral student, and Nathan Waters, a disability specialist in the Office of Accessibility and doctoral student in the Department of Educational Foundations, Leadership and Technology. The pair developed wheelchair sports activities at Auburn through their assistantships with what was then the university’s Program for Students with Disabilities, now the Office of Accessibility, in 2009.
With the support of the Office of Accessibility and the College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology, the program continues to grow, offering athletic opportunities for those with disabilities.
“Since we started this program, I have been introduced to many dedicated athletes who train hours a day, all year round and travel across the country for competitions for very little recognition,” Waters said. “They just want to compete. I realized how important it was for us to develop a program so that more athletes with disabilities could have opportunities to be student-athletes at the college level.”
The team will also face the University of Alabama and the University of Illinois this season. For a complete schedule and more information about Auburn’s wheelchair basketball team and adaptive sports program, go to http://auadaptive.org.
(Written by Carol Nelson.)