Many of these athletes have been wheelchair bound for years, but don’t be fooled. They’ve got moves, strength, and game that most average people will never have.
CEO of MACE and Deep South Hurricanes catcher Antonio Wright said, “When you think of wheelchair sports, you don’t really think of wheelchair athletes. You don’t think that they’re great athletes. Before these guys got hurt, you’re talking about world class athletes. Even hurt, you have Olympians out here that play every sport you can think of.”
Antonio Wright has been playing with the Deep South Hurricanes for three years. He’s one of hundreds of wheelchair athletes who rolled into the Mississippi Coast Coliseum today for the start of the 39th annual Wheelchair Softball World Series. “Imagine this: in 2011, we started this non-profit wheelchair sports with basketball. We then had tennis and then in 2014, we went to Chicago for our first world series. Last year, we went to Minnesota and for our third year, we’re hosting it,” said Wright.
Volunteers from across the Gulf Coast pitched in to help keep score and officiate games.
This is the first time in 10 years that the Wheelchair Softball World Series has been held in the South. Teams traveled from all over the United States and as far as Japan and Australia to compete.
Wataru Horie, from Team Japan, said, “We have a lot of fun. Everybody is kind and nice. Everybody comes to us to talk and exchange the culture and stuff. That’s always fun.”
Eighteen teams are set to play this weekend, the largest number the Wheelchair Softball World Series has ever seen.
Community Relations Coordinator for MACE Cindy Singletary said, “We’re looking forward to them being out on the town this week. So, we made sure to let them know about all of our awesome casinos and the play areas and all that jazz.”
“We’re just so proud that the country gets the opportunity to experience what the Gulf Coast of Mississippi has,” said Wright.
The Wheelchair Softball World Series will continue until Saturday and is completely free and open to the public.