The USQRA has been active since 1988, celebrating their 30th anniversary this year.
Since 1988, the United States Quad Rugby Association (USQRA) has been giving people with disabilities around the nation the opportunity to compete in one of the most intense sports, wheelchair rugby. Wheelchair rugby originally started in Canada in 1977 by a group of quadriplegic athletes. At the time, wheelchair basketball was the big sport for wheelchair users, and this group wanted something different where athletes with limited arm and hand function to play equally. Originally known as Murderball, wheelchair rugby is a fast-paced, highly competitive and aggressive sport.
“There’s lots of contact, which is going to build up emotions on the court,” says Nick Springer of 360 Heat. “You see guys yelling and cheering and going for big hits, and it makes it really intense, and the intensity is good for both the fans and the players and it boosts the moral of the team.”
The first U.S. national tournament was held in in 1988 in North Dakota with only six teams competing. It was at this tournament that the USQRA was formed to regulate the sport in the U.S. Now, in 2018, there are over 40 teams around the U.S competing. The Paralympic sport has become wildly popular all over the world, with over 40 countries actively participating.
“Wheelchair rugby has become popular because of the people who play it,” Springer says. “They are very aggressive, and we need aggressive players with the mentality to match it. It’s a very lively, tight-knit community. We like to have fun, we are friends with our rivals and we have friends around the country. It’s [the USQRA] is a very intense league, but also such a close-knit community.”