Written by Phil Cerroni
By Amanda Casanova and Jess Paniszczyn
The crash of metal rang in the gym at Senter Park as two quad rugby teams battled for a win in the1st Annual Matt Reynolds Memorial Quad Rugby Tournament. Previously, the tournament was called the Annual USQRA Rise National Invitational Quad Rugby Tournament.
More than 60 players making up seven teams gathered on the weekend of Feb. 8 through 10 at Senter Park Recreation Center for the three-day competition.
This year the event featured a memorial service to Matt Reynolds, a North Texas Cowboys team member. Reynolds, 25, died of a heart attack on Jan. 21.
“Matt touched so many lives in his short time on earth,” a statement from the team reads. “He will be sorely missed by TEAM RISE and the North Texas Cowboys Rugby team family.”
In quad rugby (also known as murderball), teams of four players try to score by carrying a ball across a goal line on an indoor court. The game is fast-moving with players relying on physical contact between wheelchairs to block goals.
“This gives a person a way to compete,” Marc Reynolds, North Texas Cowboys coach, said. “Great friendships are formed. The Rise family puts on a great event, and the northern teams love the weather.”
This year the Houston Texans won the tournament followed by Edmonton and then the Canada Steel Wheelz.
The tournament proved to be a special outing for the Norman family. Still reeling from a summer accident that left 6-year-old Strother in a wheelchair, watching the competition while their boys chased after a tournament ball may have brought some sense of normality back to the parents.
“This is our first event to attend,” Darin Norman said. “I think we are just trying to broaden Strother’s knowledge and experience, so he will know there is a world out there with people like him. Sportsmanship still goes on, and there are opportunities for him to participate.
“This event also offers education to my wife and myself as well. We are learning a great deal about what is available to us resource-wise in the area and in the region.
“It does me good to see these young people here competing. One of the difficult things about being the parent of an injured child is witnessing the ways in which he may be unable to participate in typical child play. He is in Kindergarten. Kids don’t necessarily understand when they are leaving someone out and when they are not leaving someone out. This lets me know there will be a lifetime of him not being left out.”
The tournament was presented by RISE Adaptive Sports, a non-profit organization based in Irving. RISE stands for Recovery, Inspiration, Success, Empowering and seeks to help disabled persons becoming independent and productive citizens through sports programs.
Among its programs are boating, fishing, golf, indoor soccer, sailing, swimming and water skiing.The next RISE event will be the 6th Annual Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation Handcycle Clinic on April 13 at the Sam Houston Trail Park, 101 E. Interstate Highway 635.
“The City of Irving Parks and Recreation Department, Ray Cerda, the parks director, believes in our mission and provides quality locations in Irving for our weekly rugby team practice, recreational rugby program, indoor wheelchair soccer, indoor power soccer, and adaptive skate event,” Paul Gray, board chairman for RISE, said.
“The City provides the only programs of this kind in North Texas. Special thanks to Tommy Gonzalez, the city manager, for his belief in Ray and RISE Adaptive Sports and for attending our events in person to support our mission,” he added.
More information about the organization and its programs are available at www.risdeadaptivesports.org.