They’re undefeated in conference play this season with an overall record of 21 4. The remaining four games will be played at home this month, including two games on Saturday. The conference tournament starts in March and features teams from North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
On Feb. 2, the Flyers played a doubleheader against the visiting Triad Trackers from Winston Salem inside the gymnasium at Massey Hill Classical High School. The gym on Southern Avenue looks like an old tobacco warehouse with interior brick walls and large, square paneled windows. About a dozen fans sat in bleachers on one side.
Players hollered instructions from the floor and encouragement from the sidelines.
The Flyers team has 10 players, each with his own story about how he ended up in a wheelchair.
Tee Foster, one of the Flyers’ top scorers, was run over by a Humvee in 1992 while in the field for the Army.wholesale jerseys http://www.cheapjerseysshow.com/ He broke his spinal cord and vertebrae. He has been playing wheelchair basketball for 18 years.
“It keeps me fit,” the 43 year old said. “I always tell people it’s like bumper cars.”
Foster’s hands were smudged on this Saturday by the frequent contact with the rubber wheels, which have large spokes like a bicycle. The chairs used in the game each have a tiny third wheel in the back to help maintain balance.
Foster is 6 foot 1 and is married with four children. He shaves his head and trims his graying mustache. He has some use of his legs and can drive himself and walk around the house with crutches.
But on the court, he sometimes sees players with a worse physical disability than his.
“It helps me be even more grateful,” Foster said.
Another Flyers player, Randy Holland, lost the use of his legs after a car accident in Alabama in 1987.
“I ran over some black ice,” said Holland, who is 48 and lives in Goldsboro.
Holland said wheelchair basketball can inspire others to view those with handicaps in a positive light.
“I don’t look at it as a disability,” he said. “I look at it as an ability.”
Cortez Graham, who is 31, was shot in Raleigh in 2007 during a robbery. Someone stole his necklace and then shot him in the back. He was in the hospital for two months, and his spine was damaged.
“My legs burn like crazy all the time,” Graham, who lumbered his 6 foot 4 frame into a sport wheelchair for a practice in late January.
Graham said he played basketball briefly for Shaw University in Raleigh before the shooting.
“It’s different from the way I used to play,” he said, shooting free throws while seated in the chair 15 feet from the basket.
Someone suggested he try wheelchair basketball, so he joined the Flyers this season.
“When I started playing, I actually liked it,” he said.
Before the tipoff Saturday, they smiled and shook hands, and a referee used a tape measure to make sure none of the wheelchairs were taller than 21 inches.
The Flyers follow college basketball rules, though the rules are somewhat adapted. Players are ranked by skill level and disability, and there are limits on how many highly skilled players can be on the floor at once. Leaping out of the chair is a technical foul. When a player in an aggressive move topples over onto the floor, a referee sounds the whistle.
Moving with the basketball is different, too. Players can coast in their chairs while holding onto the ball. But after pushing on their wheels more than twice, they must dribble before they push again. Otherwise they are guilty of traveling.
In the first game, the Triad Trackers scored first. The Flyers, wearing black and orange jerseys, raced toward their basket.