Scott Wade hasn't looked back since he joined his wheelchair lacrosse team a few years ago.

Hunter Skillman - The Shelbyville News

For most young people, sports are a way of life. For others, they never actually had a chance to play growing up.

Scott Wade is a resident of Shelby County who is now a very active athlete. When he was younger, he just didn’t have the same resources he does now though. In fact, years ago he didn’t really have many options at all.

Wade was born with physical malformations. Now, he is active in wheelchair lacrosse.

He blames pollution in the city’s water supply for how he was born.

“There were about nine kids born around the same time with various disabilities because of this,” he told The Shelbyville News. “I was born without a left leg and my right leg was deformed and later amputated. My right hand only has two fingers on it.”

For a multitude of reasons, Wade thought it would be hard to get active, but now he knows it is the opposite thanks to several resources.

“I always wanted to play adaptive sports, but did not start until I was in my 30s,” Wade said. “I googled ‘adaptive sports’ and found RHI (Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana), who sponsors most of the adaptive sports teams. They told me about wheelchair lacrosse and I started showing up for practice, and never looked back. My team loaned me a chair to use until I could get a grant for my own. This is my third year playing.”

Wade stuck with his new wheelchair lacrosse team and is now fully immersed in the world of adaptive sports. He is making it his mission to help others find the same love he has.

“I think there are others around that could benefit from participation in adaptive sports,” Wade said. “The trips to practice would have been a deal breaker for me as well some years back. I have transportation now, but back then I did not have hand controls to drive with. I have learned since then that my teammates would have been happy to provide rides to and from practice. And travel to tournaments can be covered in most cases.”

That being said, Wade has been looking for others here in Shelbyville wanting to get involved. As far as he knows, no one else here in the county is involved in adaptive sports.

“We practice every Tuesday at Perry Park in Greenwood from 7-9 p.m.,” Wade said. “We will also be at the RHI Abilities Expo Aug. 13 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event will be held at the Indy Fuel Tank in Fishers. There will be representatives of all the adaptive sports teams in the area at this expo.

“Also, the expo coincides with the Sled Hockey training camp, which will be going on inside the Fuel Tank,” he added. “Members of gold medalist Team USA Sled Hockey will be on the ice.”

Wade’s own team has found success recently, and hopes to continue to build on it.

“We just returned from our regional tournament in Wisconsin where we placed third,” Wade said. “There are around 16 wheelchair lacrosse teams in the U.S. and we are trying to gain momentum in other countries so that it can become a Paralympic sport.”

Wade’s team is still relatively new, and they certainly are welcoming those who want to play.

“Our team was founded in 2015, and this is my third year playing,” Wade said. “Our team consists of players from anywhere in Indiana. We don’t turn away anyone who wants to play as long as they have some type of disability. The rules are nearly the same as able-body lacrosse. We play on ice rinks where the ice has been removed for the summer. The boards help to keep the ball in play.”

As previously mentioned, it is a lot more manageable to get involved than you may think at first.

“The main reasons I have heard for people thinking they can’t participate in adaptive sports are cost of equipment and transportation to and from events,” Wade said. “There are grants available for this, and most teams have some spare equipment for new players to use until they get their own. So don’t let money hold you back. As for transportation, many of us carpool to practice and tournaments and we can always fit one more.”

There is an adaptive sport for every level of physical ability, or experience.

“Others have never played a sport and think they may not be good enough to play on a team,” Wade said. “We do not turn away anyone that wants to play. The skills will come with practice, and we will work with you.”

Once upon a time, this didn’t seem as possible to Wade as it is now.

“There were not a lot of adaptive sports around locally when I was a kid,” Wade said. “I had my children when I was young. Now that they are older, I am able to take time for myself.”

Everyone might start for a different reason, but passion is what brings them back.

“It may begin with wanting to prove the world wrong, but it quickly becomes apparent that the only person you have to prove something to is yourself.” Wade said. “The outside world goes away for a while while you are training or playing.”

“I also believe the equipment we get to use plays a big role,” Wade said. “Strapping into a sport chair, or a sled hockey sled, an adaptive water ski, or a hand cycle allows for a level of movement that is indescribable.”

Wade has definitely noticed improvements across the board since joining.

“Physically, I am stronger and overall more healthy than I have ever been in my life,” Wade said. “But the more profound difference wheelchair lacrosse has brought into my life are the truly remarkable people I have met since I began playing. I have traveled with my team, Indy Rip, to Long Island and Wisconsin to play in tournaments. We will be going to Colorado at the end of August.”

What adaptive sports are in season? More than you may think.

“Wheelchair Lacrosse, Power Soccer, Wheelchair Tennis, Adaptive Water Skiing, to name a few off the top of my head,” Wade said.

Wade recommends the same course of action he took just a few years ago to those interested.

“Contact the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana (RHI) and ask for the sports program,” Wade said. “They will get you in contact with the teams. RHI also hosts clinics where anyone can come out and try adaptive sports.”

It’s hard to really communicate the impact, so Wade encourages everyone to give this a shot and experience it for themselves.

“It does save lives,” Wade said. “It’s hard to put into words the effect the adaptive sports community can have. We all have challenges that make it difficult to stay active, but these can be overcome and your team will always be there to offer support and guidance.”

If you just want to get active by yourself, there are other options as well.

“I am also an avid handcyclist, I ride my bike around Shelbyville quite a bit,” Wade said.

While joining the Wheelchair Lacrosse team has been a life changing experience for Wade, he still thinks other things right here in Shelbyville could be more adaptive as well.

“As far as making Shelbyville more accessible and inclusive, it should start with an accessible post office,” Wade said. “I’ve never been inside that building.“

“I love the Knauf Greenway Trail, but the wood barriers before and after the train tracks aren’t built to accommodate a handcycle,” Wade said.


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