Reach out to WLUSA to bring Wheelchair Lacrosse to your area and help be a part of bringing this game to a new audience. Video by Brent Altomare, groovylikeamovie.com.
The History of Wheelchair Lacrosse
Unlike many wheelchair sports, which have their origins in the 1940s and 50s, wheelchair lacrosse is a young sport. In fact, the sport's governing body in the United States, Wheelchair Lacrosse USA, was only founded in 2009. Ryan Baker, who was paralyzed in a car crash in 1991, co-founded the organization, with the goal of introducing the traditional sport of lacrosse to individuals in wheelchairs.
To help spread the popularity of the sport, Baker attends various military hospitals and bases throughout the country putting on clinics, such as Walter-Reed Medical Center. Each of these clinics is designed to introduce recreational wheelchair activities to newly injured or disabled individuals – not only to aid in their physical recovery, but to show them what possibilities lay ahead for individuals in wheelchairs.
Like many wheelchair sports, wheelchair lacrosse serves many functions: recreation, physical activity, and emotional therapy. Many individuals in wheelchairs find it difficult to meet new friends; by becoming involved in a team sport, this social barrier is broken down.
The Rules of Wheelchair Lacrosse
The basic structure of wheelchair lacrosse is modeled after traditional lacrosse. There are two teams, and the teams are ultimately attempting to score goals by getting the ball into the other team's net. The basic fundamentals are simple:
- Players – Two teams of 8 players each
- Positions – Attack (2), Midfielder (3), Defensemen (2), and Goalie (1)
- Field of Play – For wheelchair lacrosse, a roller hockey rink is used; this rink is broken up into distinct zones
- Play Time – A wheelchair lacrosse game includes four quarters of 15 minutes each, with stoppages allowed
- Equipment – Gear that carries over from traditional lacrosse includes the crosse (or stick with attached net), ball, and various items of safety equipment, such as a helmet
- Wheelchairs – The wheelchairs utilized for wheelchair lacrosse mirror the standards adopted by the National Wheelchair Basketball Association
- Player Classifications – Players are classified based upon the extent of their impairment, with classes ranging from I to III
- Conferences – Events are held in various conferences throughout the United States; these conferences are West, East, North, South and Southeast
The rules for wheelchair lacrosse are governed by Wheelchair Lacrosse USA. If you would like more detailed information on the rules, the 2012 WLUSA rulebook provides the information you seek. Read up, learn the basics, and sign up for a team!
Major Tournaments and Camps – Get Involved!
There is a multitude of ways to become involved in wheelchair lacrosse. For the uninitiated, it may be prudent to sign up for a camp. However, if you are currently involved in other wheelchair sports, such as wheelchair basketball, and feel that you would get a hang of the sport in short order, you may want to consider finding a team near you. Contact Wheelchair Lacrosse USA directly or your local recreation center and see what options are available.