LAKEVILLE, Minn. — Standout athletes from across the country hit the court in Lakeville this weekend. Teams are competing in the Courage Kenny Classic, a wheelchair basketball tournament.
"They're all competing and trying to win championships just like any other able-bodied individual. It's really cool to see that there's opportunities for everybody," Courage Kenny Wheelchair Basketball Program Coordinator Romaus Mesa said. "And that's really our big goal."
Hundreds of players from across the country made their way to Lakeville North High School to compete in the tournament.
The Rolling Junior Timberwolves are one of four Minnesota teams vying for a spot at the national tournament. It's a feat the team's done before, but what really impresses head coach Doug Dixon is the work done off the court.
"It's just so great to see the transformation of the players. I get little shy kids and insecure and by the time they leave they are just completely confident and leaders," Dixon said.
Senior captain Jack Binsfeld is one of those players.
"It's really given me an outlet to just grow, come out of my shell almost," he said. "During the game, it's just you and the people on the court. You never hear the people in the audience. It's just focusing on basketball."
That focus helped Binsfeld snag a scholarship to play wheelchair basketball at the University of Illinois next year, alongside his co-captain and fellow scholarship recipient, Michael Allen.
"It's a little surreal actually because I've never really think of myself as being super great at the sport, so it's just been great to be able to have my talent recognized," Allen said.
All the Courage Kenny teams — the Courage Kenny Rolling Rowdies, Courage Kenny Junior Rolling Gophers, Courage Kenny Junior Rolling Timberwolves and Courage Kenny Timberwolves (adult) — will play in the tournament. These teams are part of the wheelchair basketball program at the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, which allows athletes of all abilities the opportunity to participate in the sport. A few former CKRI athletes have gone on to play for Team USA in the Paralympics.
The program is always looking for volunteers. Click here for more information.
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