Low Point Wheelchair Rugby Success
Sportable hosted its first-ever Low Point Wheelchair Rugby Tournament, River City Rumble, on July 15 and 16. The round robin tournament featured six low point wheelchair rugby teams from across the country – the TIRR Texans, WWAR Warriors, Grand Rapids Thunder, Magee-Medstar, Sportable Possums, and the Northridge Knights. Prior to the River City Rumble, most of these teams were fairly new to the low point division, seeing as it was one of the league’s first low point tournaments. Overall, all six teams held their own in their respective matches against each other; however, the reigning champions were the TIRR Texans, with a record of 5-0.
TIRR Texans – Houston, Texas
The TIRR Texans were created around 1990 with the help of player and coach Steve Kearley, who also hosted Sportable’s low point clinic prior to the tournament. The team is a part of the TIRR Memorial Hermann rehabilitation adaptive sports programs, whose goal is to provide recreational and physical opportunities to individuals with disabilities.
The Texans played three matches on Saturday, and two on Sunday. They earned first place in the tournament, with their top scorers being Earl Bowser (1.5) and Juan Narvaez (1.0). Gabe Garcia (1.0) also won the Sportsmanship award.
WARR Warriors – Tampa, Fla.
This Tampa-bound wheelchair rugby team is a part of an adaptive sports program created by the Wounded Warriors Abilities Ranch (WWAR). WARR was founded in 2015 by Mike Delancey, the current head coach, in an effort to inspire veterans of all abilities to be active in different ways.
The Warriors came out of the tournament with a record of 4-1, where they lost to the TIRR Texans with a score of 36-26. The top scorers were Joel Rodriguez (1.0) and Zac Broadley (1.5).
Grand Rapids Thunder – Grand Rapids, Mich.
The Grand Rapids Thunder Quad Rugby team is sponsored by the Mary Free Bed Wheelchair and Adaptive Sports program and was coached by Christy Vanhaver.
Thunder placed third overall in the tournament with a record of 3-2, with their two losses being against WWAR Warriors and the TIRR Texans. The top scorers for Thunder were Ryan Engleby (1.5) and Paul Garret (1.5). Thunder’s Katie Brim (1.0) also won the Tournament MVP award.
Magee-Medstar – D.C. and Pennsylvania
Magee-Medstar was an amalgamation of the Philadelphia Magee Eagles Quad Rugby Team and Medstar NRH United, and were coached by Jeff Burroughs and managed by Rita Penniman.
Magee-Medstar finished the tournament with a record of 2-3 and earned their two wins against the Sportable Possums and the Northridge Knights. Their top scorers were Rishi Sharma (1.5) and Nathan Washington (1.0).
Sportable Possums – Richmond, Va.
Sportable’s very own wheelchair rugby team, the Sportable Possums, was created in 2009 and practiced year round. This was the Possums’ first low point tournament, but they last competed as a team in the regular division at the 2022 Steel City Slam in Slippery Rock, Ark.
In their home court and coached by Matt Lowery, the Possums put up a valiant effort with a record of 1-4, winning their game against the Northridge Knights 39-26. The Possums top scorers were Josh Burch (1.5) and Josh Smith (0.5).
Northridge Knights – Lake View Terrace, Calif.
The Northridge Knights are sponsored by Northridge Hospital Medical Center and managed by Samantha Silverman.
The Knights ended the tournament with 0-5; however, their top scorers were spread out among the team – Joey Mearig (1.5), Kevin Green (0.5) and Kyle McKittrick (1.0).
Sportable’s first low point wheelchair rugby tournament, the River City Rumble, turned out to be a huge success. This event wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the volunteers, staff, coaches and MobilityWorks for the transportation. Sportable would also like to thank the United States Wheelchair Rugby Association (USWRA) for their generous $10,000 USWRA grant that helped fund the low-point clinic and tournament.
“I couldn’t be happier about the first ever low point rugby tournament in Richmond,” said Possums Head Coach Matt Lowery. “To have players from every area of the country here compete with one another and the camaraderie you saw all weekend is what the game is all about. This was a special 3 days of rugby, for newcomers and long-time players, and we are already looking forward to Richmond staying on the Low Point calendar!”