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Wheelchair basketball players battle for dominance on the court

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The rock bounces on the court, a player lines up a shot to the net — swoosh — and the wheels keep spinning.

In this basketball game, metal meets metal as players in wheelchairs crash, fall and bruise each other to get the win.

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The season for the Orlando Magic Wheels, a wheelchair basketball team from Orlando, may be over, but the work to raise funds, raise awareness and recruit new players never stops.

During games, wheelchairs collide at full speed and sometimes players fall. They have to use the strength of their arms to push themselves up to keep playing.

Injuries can happen. Connie Sloat, a player for the team, broke her wrist in one game. She  said she’s been playing for 16 years and loves it.

Spina bifida. Amputations. Paraplegia. Sloat doesn’t see people with disabilities in wheelchairs anymore; she sees people having fun.

Joyce Prakke said serious injuries don’t happen often during games, but if they play, players can expect to leave with scratches and bruises. She’s been playing for 13 years.

If one has a lower-limb disability and is coordinated enough to push a wheelchair and handle a basketball, he or she can join the team.

The next season for the National Wheelchair Basketball Association starts in September.

Andrew V. Pestano wrote this story online.

About Ethan Magoc

Ethan is a journalist at WUFT News. He's a Pennsylvania native who found a home reporting Florida's stories. Reach him by emailing emagoc@wuft.org or calling 352-294-1525.

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