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February 8, 2011 > BORP christens Dream Courts

BORP christens Dream Courts

By Simon Wong
Photo by Simon Wong

The Berkeley-based Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Program (BORP) hosted the 2011 Western National Wheelchair Basketball Association's (NWBA) Regional Youth Wheelchair Basketball Tournament at Dream Courts, Hayward, on Feb 5 and 6.

Nine teams from Utah, Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, the Bay Area, Phoenix and Spokane competed for a place in the NWBA National Championship to be played April 7-10, 2011 in Denver.

In the championship round of the two-day tournament, Utah [Salt Lake City] came second to Rancho [Los Angeles] with a score of 46-53. Team St Luke's [Spokane] was placed third.

"Kids with disabilities have few opportunities to compete with other athletes at the same level in organized sports so must participate in tournaments such as this. It's an important event. The BORP team travels to Denver, Utah and Phoenix because we can't play against high school or community teams," explained Trooper Johnson, BORP's Youth Sports Program Coordinator.

BORP provides sports and recreational opportunities for individuals with physical disabilities. The Youth Sports program has enabled youngsters to play wheelchair basketball for 25 years, sled hockey, to embark on Junior Adventures and includes a Power Cycle program for those with more limiting disabilities and Adaptive Cycling program for people to ride hand-cycles. BORP's hand-cycling program is considered one of the best in the country. Everyone learns to ride a bike as a child; BORP's Adaptive Cycling Center allows people to use what abilities they have to return to cycling.

"Our athletes live throughout the Bay Area and Dream Courts' central location relieves the burden of travel, say, from San Jose to Napa. It equals things out. The facility is amazing. It's built to be accessible and designed to accommodate; the freedom to move between courts and excellent visibility mean everyone can use it," added Johnson who is Captain of the Golden State Road Warriors and a former wheelchair basketball paraolympian.

"There's so much space to play and practice. We couldn't ask for more; other venues are often less than a quarter the size of Dream Courts' [80,000 sq. ft. Phase One] and don't have enough space for wheelchairs. We look forward to seeing the Hayward facility completed and recommend everyone visits," said 15-year olds Josh Brewer and William Robbins, who have played basketball for two and five years, respectively. Both are on Team St. Luke's [Spokane] and value the sense of family.

Jazz, whose team members are aged between 14 and 16 years, flew from Utah each with regular and competition wheelchairs. Most wheelchair teams have Junior and Varsity divisions up to age 19 for a seamless transition to adult leagues.

"Our team is drawn from a 60-mile radius. Even though Salt Lake is a big metropolitan area, there aren't many kids in chairs, interested in playing competitive basketball. All teams are co-ed," explained Marcie McIntosh, whose 16-year old daughter Eliza played recreational basketball for six years before joining Jazz [Utah].

"Our team was founded two years ago. Rancho is known for producing many talented players. As most events are on the East Coast, many people attend only four or five tournaments each year which means they usually practice alone. Honing competitive skills requires an aggressive schedule," McIntosh added.

The 2011 NWBA National Championship will be hosted across three venues in Denver. Thus, three tournaments will run simultaneously. This gives Dream Courts, which will have 31 basketball courts in April 2011, an opportunity to host the event in the future.

With just nine teams competing in the NWBA Western Regional Youth Tournament, the nearest hotel was fully booked. Several families stayed in Newark. Local stores enjoyed increased sales. Dream Courts and the City of Hayward hope to attract more businesses to cater for family visitors.

"Thanks to everyone who came to Hayward, a great city. This facility will make Hayward greater. The Banks family and Dream Courts staff worked tirelessly to ensure this NWBA event happened. Not only is this the largest indoor sports facility nationwide, word is spreading locally and it's quickly gaining attention as a national venue," stated Councilman Olden Henson. "All the athletes played hard and exhibited superb sportsmanship and camaraderie. We look forward to welcoming you all back next year."

"Remember you're the first to participate in the first event at Dream Courts. Nobody else can say that. We owe parents, coaches, BORP and Dream Courts staff a debt of gratitude for this tournament's success," concluded Johnson, appreciatively.

For more information about the NWBA National Championship, contact Sherrice Fox at SherriceFox@NWBA.org or (719) 266-4082.

For more information about BORP, sponsorship opportunities or to donate, visit www.BORP.org or email Trooper@BORP.org.

For more information about Dream Courts, sponsorship opportunities, to donate to the Dream Courts Foundation or join an AAU team, visit www.DreamCourts.com, email info@DreamCourts.net or call (510) 786-3732 and 877-317-3732.

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