Staff faces Cincinnati Royals in wheelchair basketball game

Riley Johansen | Staff Writer

On January 27, students, staff and family members of all abilities came together for the first Comets for Common Ground wheelchair basketball game.

The night was one for all of the community to remember with quarter-time performances by Cincinnati’s co-ed bhangra team Gajdi Jawani, MHS Spirit squad, and the American Sign Language (ASL) Club, along with a contest provided by TopSoccer. Staff and administration faced off against Cincinnati’s Wheelchair Basketball team, the Cincinnati Royals.

President of the Mason Parks & Recreation Foundation Rachel Kopfler said the event brought awareness to those with disabilities while bringing a fun and exciting affair to the community.

“I think the importance of the game is that it is something that’s lighthearted and fun for people to get involved in,” Kopfler said. “It also demonstrates what it’s like when you are an individual with a disability doing something that we take for granted.”

The Royals agree with Kopfler. Player Zach Sikora was born with Spina Bifida, a disability causing the spinal cord to develop improperly, leaving him to use a wheelchair. Sikora said he has enjoyed this experience and believes that everyone — no matter what the circumstance — should be able to enjoy activities like this.

“I think it’s awesome that the community can get together,” Sikora said. “I don’t think any of us were expecting this big of a turnout, but it was really awesome and everything was really nicely put together. The quarter time shows were awesome and it was just a fun experience. I think Wheelchair Sports have helped me with my confidence and helped me to be a more coachable person throughout my basketball career and my work career. I think everybody should play sports, able-bodied or not, just because it’s fun.”

The Mason staff enjoyed the game as much as everyone else, though they may not have had the amount of experience as the Royals. Physical Science teacher and member of the middle school’s wheelchair basketball team Laura Tonkin said she has a newfound respect for the Royals, and is excited to soon have a new place for people of all varieties in the community to come together.

“Playing in a wheelchair was extremely challenging and there was lots of upper body strength needed,” Tonkin said. “I was totally impressed by the Cincinnati Royals; they were awesome. I think this was very successful and I was excited to see this place so packed. Having a new common place with a common activity bringing people of varying abilities together is huge, showing that this community is welcoming to all people.”

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Photos by Staff Writer Alekya Raghavan.