- January 14, 2015
These athletes are ready to roll when it’s competition time.
Orlando Magic Wheels will take to the court for the ninth annual All-Star 2019 Tournament Saturday, Dec. 7, and Sunday, Dec. 8, at the West Orange Recreation Center.
The team is a member of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association, where athletes with lower-limb disabilities that range from amputations to paraplegia play wheelchair basketball.
The Orlando Magic Wheels will compete against the Shepherd Stealers, the Tucson Lobos and Team St. Luke’s in a four-team format tournament over the two days.
Beyond fielding a team for competitive play, Orlando Magic Wheels — a nonprofit organization — looks “to encourage and guide the development of physically disabled novice and experienced athletes to achieve their highest performance level while practicing good sportsmanship,” according to the organization’s website.
Orlando resident Connie Sloat, who just turned 63 last month, has been playing with Orlando Magic Wheels since 1997 after hearing about the organization at a disability event downtown. Prior to that, Sloat suffered a head injury from tripping and falling at work. She eventually got a brain operation after experiencing headaches and the right side of her face going numb. That surgery led to nerve damage and having no feeling in her left heel, and so Sloat had a heel cord extension surgery done to correct it.
She’s still able to walk, but the lower extremity disability qualified her to play with the Orlando Magic Wheels.
“I make it fun, but I’m also serious when I play because I don’t want to lose,” Sloat said. “I think I was born that way.”
Sloat said that the public is welcome to come out, watch the game and support the team.
“Come try my chair if you want to see what wheelchair basketball is all about or what a disabled person goes through every day,” Sloat said.