A sport described as fun and aggressive by its very own players, wheelchair rugby certainly is not for the faint of heart, but the way this past time has developed to reestablish purpose for those that participate makes the camaraderie that much more remarkable.
Wheelchair rugby is a sport most have never heard of and due to its combative nature that features constant mayhem, it goes by another name.
“Murderball. It’s literally: murder the person with the ball,” said Charles Ray.
Allen Frye, a former triathlete, said his loved ones worry about his endeavors with the sport.
“It’s usually a nervous laughter at first,” he described, “and then we’ll Youtube murderball. I’ll tell them to do that and they’ll look at that and say I’m nuts. They say, ‘Aren’t you afraid of breaking your neck?’ and I say, ‘No, I’ve already done that once.’”
Players of the South Florida Rattlers get strapped into customized wheelchairs with giant wheels built to crash into each other. Four players per team have one goal: to advance a volleyball to the baseline of a basketball court.
Sometimes getting to the end goal is not easy, according to another player.
“There are some violent hits and the violent hits are fun,” he said.
While body-to-body contact is forbidden in wheelchair rugby, chair-to-chair collisions are heavily recommended in this intense sport.
“[The sport is] full contact so people want to hit you and you want to hit them back,” said Ray.
“Physicality is the name of the game,” said Frye. “You can’t be afraid to hit and you can’t be afraid to get hit. That’s what it’s all about — it’s going out there and playing bumper cars with these aluminum tanks.”
Some athletes have spinal cord injuries from various accidents resulting in no use of their legs and limited use of their upper extremities, but the entire team is grateful for what the sport has done for their lives.
“When I came here, I had no idea what it was like to be independent and what it was to be just an individual out here living life as if you were able-bodied,” said Daniel Rodriguez. “Being part of this team allowed me to get an idea of what that looked like to other people. I knew that if they could do it, I could do it.”
Leduar Rivera said murderball has given him an outlet to work out and have fun.
Ray mentioned they even eat together after their brawl on the court.
“You pick on each other, you talk smack and you play hard and then you go to dinner,” he said.
Anyone who is interested in participating or finding out more, click here.