Local organization looks to start youth wheelchair basketball team

Shawn Hollins is looking to start a youth wheelchair basketball league in the Triad area.

Local organization looks to start youth wheelchair  basketball team
June 03
11:21 2021

Shawn Hollins, assistant director of The Maddawg Center, is hoping to put together a local wheelchair basketball league for area youth with lower body disabilities.  

Hollins is wheelchair-bound and is a member of the Triad Trackers wheelchair basketball team.  Basketball was a part of his life before losing his leg and once he was introduced to wheelchair basketball, that drive has continued.  Hollis and Trackers’ head coach, Brian Robinson, witnessed a youth basketball team previously and wanted to bring that experience home to local youth.

“Three or four years ago, we (Trackers) went to the national championship in Louisville and we saw the kids’ teams, so that gave Brian the idea and he talked about it down there,” said Hollins.  “I think being so caught up in trying to put it together and still manage the Trackers and Stealers programs, he backed away from it.

“Now that he has his own gym and has two years in it, the idea came back up and we talked about it two weeks ago.”

Hollins stated he and Robinson spoke with the parents of the kids at the tournament in Louisville to inquire about the logistics of the team.  They found that the players came from all over their respective areas to play on the team; because it’s hard to find enough wheelchair bound players in one city to field an entire team.

“You’re not going to find, especially in the Triad area, seven or eight kids that are disabled in wheelchairs that are going to be able to make a team, so you might have to go to Burlington or the smaller areas,” he said.  “We are trying to just get the word out.”

Hollins stated that the idea he and Robinson had was to bring in a group of kids and teach them the game of wheelchair basketball.  It may take a year or two before they would be able to compete, but there is no rush with this program, he said.

“The first thing is we would have to get them in there and teach the skills and basics as far as rules,” Hollins continued.  “Basketball rules are still the same with the wheelchair game, but there is a difference in how you dribble and carry the ball, so we would have to teach them the fundamentals of the game.

“At the age group we are looking at, most of them, we would have to teach the game of basketball.  That’s why we said it would be a two-year process once we had enough kids to build a team.”

Hollins has been in a wheelchair for the last 20 years.  Wheelchair basketball has brought so many things to his life and he wants young children in the area to have that opportunity as well.

“It would be a blessing to be able to get this started and be able to touch these kids’ lives,” Hollins said about starting the team.  “Being able to teach these kids that are in the same situation that I’m in would be like a calling from God for me to understand why my accident happened.”

Hollins lost his left leg in a car accident and nearly lost his life.  People continually told him that “God saved his life for a reason” and he feels the reason is to give back to kids that are in the same situation he is in.

For Hollins, it was a tough adjustment period going from walking to a wheelchair.  He attempted suicide after his accident.  While in the hospital, he was taken to the pediatric wing of the hospital where he observed newborn children who were delivered without limbs.  That encounter woke him up and motivated him toward recovery.

“It was a mental challenge for me, accepting being in a chair,” he said.

After recovering mentally, Hollins wanted something to fill the competitive void that was left.  He played video games and card games, but they did not give him all of what he was looking for.  Once he discovered wheelchair basketball, he knew that was what he needed.

“Basketball has always been my love,” he said.  “I went on the Internet and pulled up wheelchair basketball and I saw the team down there at the Winston-Salem Stealers.  I went down there to see them and I seen that most of these kids never played basketball before their injury and it excited me.

“After I saw them, I had knee replacement surgery so my knee could bend and after surgery and three months of recovery, I went back down there and got on the court with them.  It brought life back to me honestly, as far as being able to compete.  It motivated me in a way to make me feel like me again, because I have always been involved in sports.”

Wheelchair basketball takes a lot more skill and is much more physical than what many able-bodied people assume, Hollins said.  Many of the same skills translate from traditional basketball to wheelchair basketball.

Hollins is thankful for the friendship he and Robinson share.  He says whenever Robinson calls, he will answer to help.  For more information on joining their wheelchair basketball team, please call 336-543-7989 or reach out to Shawn Hollins and Brian Robinson on Facebook.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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