The City University of New York Athletics Department opened its commitment to wheelchair sports
Some of the top National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) talent was on hand at Queens College in New York City on Saturday to usher in a new era for the City University of New York’s (CUNY) athletics department, as the department made a formal investment to create teams under the CUNY umbrella in sports like wheelchair basketball.
The announcement was made by CUNY Athletics Director Zak Ivkovic, who was speaking at the clinic hosted by the Wheelchair Sports Federation and co-sponsored by CUNY and the New York Rollin’ Knicks, who made the event open to people of all ages. The clinic was led by several NWBA players from both the New York Rollin’ Knicks and the Punishers.
“What we are doing today is really an extension of our grassroots effort to connect to all of the organizations in and around New York City who support individuals with disabilities and give them the opportunities to play sports,” Ivkovic says. “We are using every opportunity to do clinics with kids, to engage our population of students and to show everyone in the community that we mean this seriously and we are invested in this long-term.”
The plan for CUNY Athletics is to start with a wheelchair basketball team and continue to expand opportunities for youth in other adaptive sports such as wheelchair rugby.
With the new program, Ivkovic says students who are entering college from the New York City area won’t have to attend a university in another state to get the competitive edge they desire by playing wheelchair sports.
“To be able to say to any students that are interested in playing sports ‘Hey, CUNY is an option,’” Ivkovic says. “After you play in the youth sports, you don’t have to go out West, you don’t have to go to the Midwest. You can actually stay close in the New York City area and the Northeast and play with us.”
Following the free clinic, the Punishers and Rollin’ Knicks played in two scrimmages in a packed Queens College gym, which were also open to the general public.
For the two teams, it was a final tune-up before this week’s NWBA national championships, which will be held in Wichita, Kansas. Rollin’ Knicks captain Steve Serio thought his team was in pretty good shape for the week ahead.
“We’re defending two-time national champions, and we are bringing back the same sort of winning mentality that we have the last couple of years,” Serio says. “We know that teams in our range, teams like Dallas, teams like Milwaukee, we know they are going to be tough, but we know that we are very excited to be playing for a national championship.“
For more information on how to get involved with CUNY’s new wheelchair basketball team visit cunyathletics.com.