Army-Navy Wheelchair Basketball game returns to Ann Arbor Saturday

Tip-off at University of Michigan's Crisler Center is at 5 p.m.

By Meredith Bruckner - Community News Producer

Photo: University of Michigan Wheelchair Basketball

ANN ARBOR - The 13th annual Army-Navy Wheelchair Basketball game returns to University of Michigan's Crisler Center this Saturday at 5 p.m.

The event is free and parking is free. Doors open at 4 p.m.

The university started the event with the goal of bringing recognition to all veterans and to help build awareness of disability on campus.

"This is much more than an exciting game," the game's founder and organizer Gerald Hoff told The University Record earlier this month. "This is an event honoring veterans and active-duty military, especially student veterans. It raises awareness about disability issues while emphasizing ability, all in the spirit of inclusion.

"And it also happens to be a whole lot of fun."

(Photo: University of Michigan Wheelchair Basketball)

Many of the players are U-M alumni and U-M ROTC Midshipman and Cadets. Other players are veterans in the community, Eastern University alumni, Team USA Paralympic players, Team Canada Paralympic players and members of Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department.

Game announcer and host of Ann Arbor Tonight, Zach Damon, has been involved in the event since day one.

"In my opinion, these men and women within the game are our hometown heroes. I feel fortunate to be able to be a part of an event which not only helps honor our veterans but also touches on disability awareness."

"My favorite part of the event would have to be when kids and family members who attend have the opportunity to try out a wheelchair made for basketball," Damon said. "To see young kids and others who may have never had to opportunity feel what it's like to be in a chair is an eye-opening experience they will never forget. From my experience, navigating the court, dribbling, and shooting all while sitting is a lot harder than it looks." 

Just over 40 players compete during the game, with the Marines and Navy on the same team and Air Force and Army joining forces.

The Grand Marshall for this year's game is Capt. Rick Vanden Heuvel of the United States Navy and director of research development at University of Michigan's College of Engineering.

The coaches:

  • Navy team: Christopher Dennis, U-M Naval ROTC Commander Capt. in the U.S. Navy
  • Army team: David McMahon, U-M Air Force ROTC Officer Capt. in the U.S. Air Force

Game entertainment includes performances by DJ EII, the 338th Army Band, U-M ROTC Color Guard, U-M Dance Team and U-M Cheer Team.

The game organizers have partnered with the Ann Arbor VA Health System. Together, they are working on transportation solutions for current patients so they can attend the game. The VA Mobile Vet Center will also be at the event to assist vets in need.

The event is supported by U-M's office of Diversity, Equality & Inclusion, U-M's Wheelchair Basketball and Ford Motor Company.

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