It is difficult to stop yourself from being immersed in watching the captivating game of quad rugby. Only eight players – all quadriplegics – are on the court at one time, and each of them has a point value (0.5 to 3.5) based on their physical capabilities. These points then determine the positions they will assume. For instance, low-point players usually play defense. Wheelchairs are also equipped with respective modifications to assist their roles as defenders or attackers. The tension of the game grips you tight, as the players strategize, defend, and aggressively collide their wheelchairs into each other all in the name of the game.
However, quad rugby is not just a competitive sport to those who play it, it is also a platform of “camaraderie and being together.” The sport brings together people who have undergone similar experiences. Every member of the NorCal Quakes shares a unique bond with each other by being able to relate to each team member’s injury experience.
“After you get injured, you don’t really have any of your buddies that are going through the same thing,” Earl Bowser, captain of the NorCal Quakes, explains. “So to come into a gym where everybody’s kind of dealing with the same issues that you’ve got … it’s a huge thing for guys to just get back into living life again.”
Living with a disability is a “learning curve,” and this sport has provided its players with opportunities for learning, growth, and other experiences. Justin Patterson comments that the game has allowed him to “travel the world, for one, get independent, take care of [him]self, get stronger.” Being in a team also offers the players a chance to learn from each other, making this learning curve easier. “The best thing about it is you’re trying to figure out all the different stuff, from learning to drive, to … bathroom stuff, how do you do this? How do you transfer this? How do you do that,” another player, Brian Sperle, shares. This exchange of ideas and tips has “made [his] learning curve a lot quicker than trying to find out all on [his] own.”
Not only does quad rugby empower those who play it, the sport also motivates viewers to see the possibilities they can achieve. Kat Kobayashi, the NorCal Quakes’ equipment manager, as well as an occupational therapist, often brings her patients to witness the team’s training sessions. Brian, who was Kat’s patient, says that he saw himself in the team when he watched their practice.
“I bring [my patients] to a place like this; I don’t really have to say anything… They just look at the guys and the activity and they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, I can do this? Even with this broken body?’ These guys need something to look forward to and to be good at something again. And I think this is the perfect venue for these guys to be able to feel that.”
After all, a team sport like quad rugby builds a community, or even still, a family.
Check out the video below to see how the game of quad rugby is played.
Share this post with someone who needs a little motivation, and hopefully they will be able to find it by picking up a new sport!