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Mobile Patriots wheelchair basketball takes on UWF, Pensacola teams

University of West Florida | news@uwf.edu

The Mobile Patriots visited the University of West Florida (UWF) Thursday night for the ninth year in honor of Disability Awareness Month. More than 300 people attended an exhibition game between the Patriots and teams of UWF faculty, staff and students and members of the Pensacola Community.

“This year’s game went extremely well,” said Catherine Powell, director of ADA Compliance at UWF. “It exceeded successes of previous years. I was pleased to see more students, both in the crowd and signing up to play on a team. We had more players this year than we could take. The support was overwhelming.”

Members of UWF’s Greek community, Army and Air Force ROTC, and faculty and staff took the court against the Patriots, and despite being given double-digit advantages from tip-off, the Patriots won the game with a final score of 127-122.

Air Force ROTC cadet Craig Haggett scored the lone basket for any of the UWF teams. The only other basket for the UWF teams came from a member of the Patriots filling in an open slot for UWF.

“I did it for UWF and for Air Force ROTC,” Haggett said of his score.

The athleticism of the Patriots players wasn’t lost on any of the players for UWF.

“It’s a lot harder to play wheelchair basketball than it looks,” said Lauren Lajas, a UWF student and member of Alpha Chi Omega who played on a Greek team.

“I have to give the Patriots a lot of credit,” said Sam Neckles, another student and member of Alpha Gamma Delta. “They must practice all the time to be so good. They have incredible upper body strength to move the wheelchair and to shoot the ball from the chair.”

UWF Recreation and Sports Services provided a student officiating crew for the event, although it was a clean game with few fouls called.

“It’s a little different than calling a regular basketball game,” said Jeremy Skrtich, who officiated Thursday. “It’s a lot of fun. We come out here for the enjoyment of the game.”

Other special guests in attendance for the event included Linda “Sonshine” Moorer of Magic 106.1, who announced the game. Other guests playing on basketball teams included Bree Sison of WEAR-TV 3, Dana Cervantes of Cat Country, Rielle Creighton of NBC 15, and boxing champ Roy Jones, Jr. and his All-Stars.

For photos of the wheelchair basketball game, visit Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/uwf/sets/72157625266934140/.

By Kelly Russ, University Communications

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