News & Events

Chicago Bears Wheelchair Rugby Continues to Make an Impact in the Midwest

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by - Michael Klonowski, Head Coach, RIC Chicago Bears Wheelchair Rugby

Wheelchair Rugby is a sport that has attracted a lot of attention over the years, for its hard hits, its fast play and with its ability to spread its impact across the globe. Since its inception in the late 1970’s in Canada, Wheelchair Rugby has flourished beyond the Americas, and we have seen the creation of teams all over the world. The United States has become a leader in the world for helping expand the sport and facilitating the dissemination of talent, with its willingness to have players from other countries play on teams in the United States, within the United States Quad Rugby Association (USQRA).

As leaders in the world of Wheelchair Rugby, it is up to each team in the United States, to make sure that the public continues to be exposed to the sport of Wheelchair Rugby, and all the positives that come with it. We, as teams within the USQRA, must do our best to promote the sport of Wheelchair Rugby for many reasons. If we wish to continue to support and expand our sport, we need to create increased awareness of Wheelchair Rugby, we must introduce potential players to join the sport and we must find ways of promoting sponsorships/grants/donations, to help create and maintain teams.

The Chicago Bears Wheelchair Rugby Team has worked over the last several years, and specifically, this past year, to help promote the sport of Wheelchair Rugby, right at home, in the Midwest. Over the past year, the Chicago Bears Wheelchair Rugby Team has participated in or has organized events that have helped promote the sport of Wheelchair Rugby, by supporting new/current players, promoting the sport, publicly, and by actively recruiting potential players.

During this past year, the first event we participated in was at the Abilities Expo, an event located in Schaumburg, Illinois, which brings together people to explore resources for individuals with disabilities. At this event, our players put together a demonstration of the sport, with an hour-long scrimmage, with voice-over explanations of the sport, and a chance for potential players to get into chairs and play. This demonstration, at a very well attended event, allows us to educate the public about the sport, and can help recruit new players for our team.

At the beginning of the Wheelchair Rugby season, in September, the Chicago Bears also put together a Wheelchair Rugby Clinic, with two Paralympians providing coaching to the Chicago Bears, and players from other teams around the Midwest. We had over 15 players attending the two-day event, which specifically helps break down the tactics/strategy of the sport, as well as how to better run games and practices. We are especially proud of this event, since, it has been quite a while since the Bears have hosted an event like this, which will hopefully, improve the level of play of our team and other teams around the Midwest.

The Chicago Bears’ most recent event of outreach, occurred recently, at Northwestern University, located in Evanston, Illinois. Our team was proud to put on a half-time demonstration during the Iowa/Northwestern basketball game. We were thrilled to have a packed house there to see our team play a scrimmage. Based on the crowd’s response to each hit and each score, they were glad to have us, there, too.

Events like this get people talking about our sport and help spread the message of our sport. We hope that we continue to expand our ability to reach out to the Midwest, and continue to grow the sport of Wheelchair Rugby both at home, and abroad.

Photo Credits –
B/W – Walter Afable
Color – Art Kent

February 26, 2016 — 3:01am