2023.0328 Jasmine Rich NEWS

A Sport I Never Thought I Could Play

By: Jasmine Rich

It’s not that I hadn’t heard about Sportable before – it’s just that my mom and I had assumed we couldn’t afford it.

Then one day, I was in a local comic book store and was approached by a friendly girl – a fellow wheelchair user – and her mom. Hannah told me she was an athlete and described all the cool things she had done with Sportable. But when she and her mom told me about the Roll with Cole Scholarship Fund, that changed everything.

I tried so many programs my first year. Pickleball, tennis, rugby, kayaking, cycling, softball, basketball, and rowing. Of all the sports though, it was wheelchair rugby that intrigued me the most. It’s a sport I never thought I could play. It was the first time I had ever been a member of a team.

I loved the physicality of rugby. I was kind of nervous about crashing into people, but by the third or fourth practice with the Sportable Possums, I was the one doing the bumping. I have to say I’m pretty proud of my blocking skills. I’m learning where I fit on the team. How to position myself to protect a teammate with the ball or stopping the other team from scoring. I’m eager to learn. Getting more comfortable with ball handling is something I’m working on.

I love getting a surprised reaction out of people when I tell them I’m playing wheelchair rugby. They are amazed because it’s such a tough sport and they don’t expect that from me.

Last year I got invited to travel with the Possums to two tournaments in North Carolina. Competing in a tournament felt different from our regular inter-squad scrimmages. It’s intense. Everyone is playing to win. It’s a fast-paced sport. I really enjoyed that competitive experience. Not only playing but also watching some high-level games, meeting a lot of players from around the country. It was the first time I got to be a part of something like this. To say I’m hooked is an understatement.

If the Roll with Cole Scholarship wasn’t available, I wouldn’t be able to play all of these sports, be on the rugby team, travel to these tournaments, and have these amazing experiences. I’m really grateful.

Over $20,000 from the Roll With Cole Scholarship Fund enabled 36 adaptive athletes like Jasmine to participate in programs such as wheelchair tennis, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, and adaptive cycling last year. Today, that fund is in dire need of replenishment. And there is no better time to help.

All donations received between now and April 14 will go directly toward the Roll With Cole Scholarship Fund, and will be matched dollar for dollar up to $5,000!

Your gift of any size offers a place for people who often feel isolated to find community, connection and meaning through sport >> https://sportable.org/support/donate/

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