The name has changed throughout the years, but the rules haven’t. What began as “murderball” is now the fastest-growing wheelchair sport: wheelchair rugby.
Columbia’s first Wheelchair Rugby Hit Hunger Day was held Saturday at Wilson’s Total Fitness. Those who attended were asked to bring a nonperishable food item or cash donation. The proceeds benefited the Central Missouri Food Bank.
Kevin Brown, the team member who organized the event, said the event’s purpose was to support the food bank and to raise awareness of the sport.
“Wheelchair rugby is a fun sport that benefits everyone who plays,” Brown said.
Team member Mike Norris has been playing the sport for about three years. He said wheelchair sports are a good way to help people with spinal cord injuries make the transition back into society. Norris had been in the U.S. Army and was used to a very active life before his injury.
“Wheelchair sports let me remain active and still compete,” Norris said. “Plus, it makes you less self-conscious and gives you more confidence when you’re out in your wheelchair.”
Between scrimmages, members of the audience were given the chance to participate in wheelchair activities.
MU rugby player Katie Jacobson, 21, said she found wheelchair rugby very different from the sport she’s used to. She said it wasn’t quite as easy as she thought it would be.
Jacobson received an award for being the first person who doesn’t normally use a wheelchair to tip over a cone while weaving in and out of other cones.
“I’ve had some experience with wheelchairs because I’m an occupational therapy major,” Jacobson said. “I thought I had it in the bag, but I was wrong.”
The wheelchair rugby team met through the St. Louis Wheelchair Athletic Association, and they have been competing together ever since. There are eight members from central Missouri.