Youth wheelchair basketball tournament rolls into Stanford

Youth wheelchair basketball tournament rolls into Stanford

Four teams of young wheelchair basketball players took to the court at Stanford’s Arrillaga Family Recreation Center last month as part of the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program’s (BORP) West Coast Conference Championship.

Local favorites, the Jr. Road Warriors, won two of their games, finishing up the season ranked third in the West Coast Conference.

The team includes 16-year-old point guard, Ben Thornton, who received a heart transplant at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford when he was just 3 years old. As a result of the heart pump Ben had to use while waiting for his transplant, he developed a blood clot that led to partial paralysis of his legs.

Ben said he found a sense of community within adaptive sports like wheelchair basketball.

“When I first started playing it really gave me a boost of self-esteem,” Ben said. “The people who are here really lifted me up. They are similar to me; they all have disabilities. They are my best friends and I wouldn’t replace them for anything.”

Ben Thornton takes a shot during the tournament

Ben Thornton takes a shot during the tournament

Ella Rodriguez is also a proud member of the Jr. Road Warriors. Despite having her leg partially amputated at a young age, Ella is extremely active, dancing and participating in several track and field events in addition to wheelchair basketball. Ella visited Stanford Children’s Motion and Sports Performance Laboratory to help take her performance to the next level.

“Before I got into adaptive sports, I was sort of the one kid without a foot, that was my identity,” Ella said. “When I got into adaptive sports, I became more empowered not only mentally but also physically. I was learning things that my body had never done before.”

Ella Rodriguez goes for the ball during the tournament

Ella Rodriguez goes for the ball during the tournament

Ella’s goal is to compete at the Paralympic Games one day.

“My main goal is to go the Paralympics not only because I get to compete, but I’m all about improving,” she said. “I’ve heard so much about it and how much it changes you and how empowering it is. It would be a really amazing experience.”

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