Temple team teaches on and off court lessons

HUNTINGDON VALLEY, Pa. - November 11, 2011

Temple University's Rolling Owl's wheelchair basketball team members shared some rolling round ball techniques with the Huntingdon Valley students.

"Wheelchair basketball is basically the same as regular basketball or any other sports they can think of. Just because athletes are in chairs doesn't mean they can't compete at the same level," Rolling Owls member James Senbeto said.

During a Q&A session, students asked the wheelchair athletes about sports chairs versus every day chairs, whether their arms hurt after a game, how they roll and bounce the ball simultaneously, what inspires them and how their disabilities affect their lives.

The visiting athletes invited the grade-schoolers to compete in an impromptu wheelchair relay.

"When you're in that wheelchair, you know that it's going to be hard, but if you practice you can do it," 6th grader Anthony Piscopo said.

"A lot of people think we can't do certain things and I want this to show them that we can do things that they say that we can't," Rolling Owls member Dan Speer said.

Beyond the cheers and unadulterated fun, students seemed to learn a lesson or two about more than how to play basketball from a wheelchair.

"I learned that they are just as capable as us and they can do anything we can do," 6th grader Jared Schafkopf said.

"They're just like us. They just are in wheelchairs," 6th grader Stephanie Simone said.

"You can accomplish anything even if you have a disability," 6th grader Stephen Mathai said.

16-year-old Andrew Reid, whose brittle bones have not hampered his basketball prowess, offered some sage advice for the younger set.

"Just get out there and not be afraid of anything. Who would have known I'd be playing basketball and traveling all over the world?" Reid said.

The scholar athletes made high marks as teachers today as they offered lessons from the hardball court about disability and ability and life.

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