Tacoma Titans wheel their way to Nationals

Tacoma Titans wheelchair basketball squad is getting a good start as the only competitive team in the South Sound.

After only two years of turning the purely recreational team into an official National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) competitor, they have already become a standout in the Northwest Region.

In their second year as NWBA competitors, the Titans have beaten out their division teams in cities across the Northwest, from Portland to Seattle.

They also came up second in a Canadian league wheelchair basketball tournament, and have been undefeated on the court since November.

Later this month, the Tacoma Titans will be making their way to Colorado Springs, Colo. for the big leagues of wheelchair sports. The eight local athletes will be competing against the 20 best in the nation during the 2012 NWBA National Competitions.

Organized by Metro Parks adaptive recreation program, the Tacoma Titans started as a casual, intramural league for local men in wheelchairs. Some of them have been in the chair since birth, while others are new to the wheelchair world – including active-duty military at Joint Base Lewis-McChord who have gotten involved with the Titans through the Warrior Transition Battalion.

"We had a core group of folks from the community that we started with, we would just shoot around and play… we brought them in and explained that we wanted to start an NWBA team," said Parker Ayers, Titans head coach and adaptive recreation specialist for Metro Parks.

"We have some really good players. It was just one of those times where we have all the pieces to the puzzle."

Before heading out to nationals March 22-25, the Titans are amping up their training, adding extra practice throughout the week – and are also looking to the local community for support in getting them to their goal.

"Going to Nationals is a really amazing opportunity for these amazing athletes to go showcase their skills on a national level, and represent Tacoma and the Northwest," Ayers said, noting that the National tournament is oftentimes a springboard for local athletes to make it big.

"We're a little anxious how it's going to unfold, but win or lose it is going to be a really fun and amazing experience for everyone."

Two fundraisers this week give you a chance to help get Tacoma's wheelchair basketball team to the national event:

The Titans will be playing an exhibition-style game for spectators to come out and see what wheelchair basketball is all about. Donations will be collected at the door. The game is at noon on March 10 at Gray Middle School.

And from 5-9 p.m. on March 13 fans can meet and greet the players, have some fun and enjoy great food at Moctezuma's Mexican Restaurant (4102 S. 56th St.) with 20 percent of all proceeds from the night going to the Titans.

Visit www.metroparkstacoma.org/titans to make a donation online, and to print out a coupon to use at Moctezuma's for the March 13 event.


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