Tiger Wheelchair Basketball in full swing - KMOV.com

Tiger Wheelchair Basketball in full swing

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- As the jump ball is thrown up to begin the game, two players crash their wheelchairs together as they fight for the ball. One player tips the ball to his teammate. Another player is knocked on the ground. He quickly rolls over, pushes himself back up with his arms and rolls full speed ahead to go after the ball.

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The Tiger team's season is in full swing and the players know every game counts.

"We won this morning, but it doesn't matter," John Gilbert, guard, said. "We're getting ready for this next game."

Part of getting ready for the next game is preparing their bodies for the physicality of the game. Junior guard Casey Adams says injuries are very common and happen almost every game.

"It's part of the game, we have to just live with it," Adams said. "I've gotten cuts, nicks, bruises and calluses all over my hands just from playing."

Other players have often seen more serious injuries.

"I saw a kidthat was pushing for a ball out of bounds and ran into the scorers table and broke his nose and messed up his face pretty bad," Garrett French, forward, said.

Another part of the game is the players are rolling full speed down the court and have to stop their chairs very quickly. Their hands and arms become black from the wheel.

"The shower burns because we have all these burns on us from stopping our chairs," Gilbert said.

Greg Anger, forward, says it does hurt, but they would never wear gloves or protection because their teammates would laugh at them.

The team finds players by recruiting high school wheelchair basketball players from across the country. Currently only one player on their roster is someone they found already on campus, the rest are recruits who specifically came to Mizzou to play wheelchair basketball.

A lot of those players are here on scholarships, which are funded through grants from the Missouri state government.

At their most recent tournament, the team finished with a record of 1-4. Although they didn't have the amount of wins they were hoping for, Anger says they just enjoy playing the game.

"My favorite part is just being with the guys, being part of a team, trying to compete with the best talent out there and hopefully getting some wins."

Jessica Mustain and Heather Frayn are students at the University of Missouri School of Journalism

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