WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina —
A wheelchair basketball team, based in the Triad, is getting ready for nationals. It’s the first time they have ever been invited.
It’s a long time coming for the athletes. The Triad Trackers have been around since 1985; they were formerly known as the Winston-Salem Smokers. The Triad Trackers are No. 2 in the nation, but they hope to become No. 1 at nationals.
“I’ve never had the opportunity to go to the national championship for anything so this opportunity is great,” said Daniel Moody, team representative.
Moody has been on the team for 11 years, but he says the team has hit an air ball. The team needs to raise money to go to nationals.
“It hurts me to think that we can’t afford to send them,” said Moody. “The whole team has put in the effort to get them to where we are. It’s only right that everyone goes.”
Moody has sold personal items to raise some extra cash, but needs a lot more to get everyone to nationals.
“My players are putting in the effort,” said Moody. “I got to put in the effort to get them there as well.”
First-year player Shawn Hollins says he knows the feeling on that national court will be a slam dunk.
“Everything that is stressing you out, or going on in life, it’s all taken away. We just relax and play,” said Hollins.
Hollins thanks the community for the support so far.
“It feels great,” said Hollins. “It feels great knowing that people support us, since a lot of us are on a fixed income because of our situations.”
The invitation to nationals didn’t come easy. In fact, the team says they know what got them to their recent success.
“Coaching, dedication to our practice schedule, and showing up as a team and recruiting,” said Travis Smith, a four-year member.
Smith says they also want to watch and learn from higher divisions, and understand that the sport is more than just a game. Smith’s teammates also hope they take home a ring, since the sport has helped them so much.
“All my life I have felt different, and I felt judged for being different, but I am never judged here,” said Jordan Chilton, a two-year member. “When I am on the court, I feel like an average person. I don’t feel like someone in a wheelchair. I just feel like a person and they all accept me as a person.”
Steven Snyder, a two-year member, agrees.
“To be able to come out here and be normal again is great,” said Snyder. “We go hard. We go hard. I want to go to nationals to learn not only how to be a better basketball player, but to also make this a little bit easier as well.”
Smith says they are looking forward to winning it all.
“We are looking at this year and we are looking at winning,” said Smith. “We want to come in first and win the whole thing.”
Moody says the team has also given him much more in life after he started playing to have a physical outlet.
“The first time I rolled into the gym, and met the guys, I became part of a family,” said Moody.
The group plans to leave by March 29 as the tournament starts on Thursday, March 30. The Triad Trackers are one of 64 teams participating in the tournament.
To donate to the group expenses, click here to go to their webpage and click on the gold MAKE A DONATION button.