News & Events

7th Annual Southern Slam

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As the New Year kicked off, quad rugby teams from as far as Boise, Idaho flocked to Jacksonville during the first weekend in January in hopes of warm weather and some healthy competition.

The clashing sound of metal against metal echoed throughout the Jacksonville Ice and Sportsplex for the 7th Annual Southern Slam Wheelchair Rugby Tournament, hosted once again by the Brooks Rehabilitation Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program. Based in Jacksonville, Florida, the Program enables those living with a physical disability to enhance their quality of life through participation in sports and recreational activities such as billiards, tennis, archery, handcycling and golf. Participants have access to expert instruction and equipment at no cost to them. Special events include surfing, water skiing, horseback riding, and more. The Program also offers a competitive outlet through sports such as Power Soccer, Wheelchair Basketball and Quad Rugby.
The Southern Slam launched into action Friday morning, pitting Carolina Crash against the South Florida Rattlers on one court and the Milwaukee Iron against the Boise Bombers on the second court. Teams from Florida, New York, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Idaho and Wisconsin battled one another as the day rolled on.
The Brooks Bandits brought a win for the home team during their first match up of the day against Capital Punishers from Washington D.C. The Bandits came out on top with a strong performance from "Sticky Picker Award" winner Don Bergman. As the first day of play came to a close, the home team sat with a two-one record, ready to take on a new lineup of teams the next morning.
Saturday welcomed a large crowd of spectators, volunteers and sponsored events including Sparky, the Airgas Mobile Welding Unit. Every year, Airgas donates time, skill and manpower to attend the Southern Slam  and help repair some of the rugby players beat up wheelchairs right on the spot.
Additional Double Platinum Sponsors helping to make the tournament possible included Vesco Metal Craft with a rugby chair donation and Delta Settlements, supplying players with custom hooded sweatshirts, an IPad for raffle and sponsored JD Diamond Photography for the entire weekend.
Atlantic Powder Coating sponsored 5 days of radio advertising leading up to the event and Xcalibur Chairs donated a set of Spinergy wheels for auction.  The Blood Alliance was also in attendance, staying true to the slogan, “Donate Blood, Play Quad Rugby”.
The weekend rolled on without a hitch. During the second half of day two, the Bandits faced the New York Warriors. The Warriors challenged the Bandits with a strong defense led by US National Quad Rugby Team Member Lee Fredette. The Warriors came out triumphant.
Coach Kenny encouraged the Bandits to learn from the losses, move on to the next day, and stay focused on their post-season goals. Day three put the Bandits in 7th place with another win over the Capital Punishers.
The real story on Sunday was the championship game between the Shepherd Smash and the Carolina Crash. The hits were big during the final game between Chance Sumner of the Carolina Crash and Shepherd Smash player Rob Deller, winner of the Wrecking Ball Award. The first quarter saw a few unexpected turnovers from the typically disciplined Smash team and by early in the third quarter, the Smash was down by five points. Soon the tide started to turn, and Carolina Crash was plagued by turnovers. By mid-fourth quarter the game was even. When the clock ran out, loud cheers echoed throughout the sports center.
Shepherd Smash had secured the first place trophy.   Second place went to Carolina Crash and third place to the Tampa Generals.  All-star players voted on by the teams included; Steve Servis, Lee Fredette, Justin Stark, Dave Jenkins, Cody Kingsland and Rob Deller. Special award winners included; Don Bergman, Sticky Picker; Rob Deller, Wrecking Ball; and Leevi Ylonen, Speed Demon.
The weekend tournament was a huge success for the seventh year in a row, with some great rugby play, no major injuries, and above freezing temperatures for our nightly barbeques which give everyone a chance to catch up with old friends and make some new ones.
Thank you to Brooks Rehabilitation, our athletes, sponsors, volunteers, and family members that made our tournament a win for us all.
Submitted by Chris Hull and Lindsay Larin
January 31, 2014 — 10:20am