MILWAUKEE -- For some of these athletes, a wheelchair is all they’ve ever known. Others didn't need it until later in life. No matter their path, they've all found an outlet in wheelchair basketball.
“I saw my friends playing regular things and I kind of felt left out -- because they weren’t all in a wheelchair like me," said Travis Beckler, 14, who was born with spina bifida.
“I was a Division II college football player. When I was 19, I ended up falling about 30 feet and breaking my back," said Jordan Wilkens, coach of the Milwaukee Junior Bucks and a player in his own right.
“It gives me an opportunity to play sports that I wouldn’t be able to if we didn’t have these," said Myles Calhoun, 13, also born with spina bifida.
WASA, the Wisconsin Adaptive Sports Association, has the largest wheelchair basketball club of its kind in the nation.
“I enjoy the competitiveness. I’m very competitive in anything," said Beckler.
“You hear the clang of the metal. It gets your blood going. That’s what I enjoy about it," said Mauricio Rosales, 36.
This weekend, WASA hosts one of the biggest tournaments in the country, the 4th annual Big Cheese Classic at Brookfield East High School.
“To see these parents see their kids, being like, ‘wow. My kid is out there competing, playing basketball, making buckets, falling over, getting back up and being part of that social and team aspect,' -- it means the world to me and it means the world to these people," said Wilkens.
States as far away as Texas and California will be represented, and everyone from Paralympians down to 6-year-old players will get to put their skill and strength on full display.
“I can do something in the wheelchair with everyone like me, so I don’t feel singled out or left out," said Beckler.
“It’s just helped me bring a lot of light to my life, and then now I’m able to help bring it to other people," said Wilkens.
The Big Cheese Classic is Saturday, Feb. 3 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 4 from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Brookfield East High School. Admission is free and it's open to the public.
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