Rockford hosts 19th annual junior wheelchair basketball holiday tournament

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) The Rockford Junior Chariots hosted the 19th annual junior wheelchair basketball holiday tournament this weekend.

It's one of the largest junior wheelchair basketball tournaments in the nation. 22 teams from eight different states, separated into two divisions descended on the UW Health Sports Factory.

Something Rockford Junior Chariots head coach J.R. Boyer is proud to have here in the Forest City.

"Other people I've talked to a number of times with different teams say this is their favorite tournament every year," said Boyer. "They look forward to coming here."

Matt Mulvenna is the adapted sports director at the Rockford Park District. He said more than a thousand people came through Rockford over the two-day tournament.

"Having a facility like this has been fantastic. Because we can host all these teams and we can run a great tournament here. And being able to do it consistently, that can do nothing but help us."

He said it's been fun for spectators and players alike.

"All these kids have been playing together forever. It's a socialization piece. It's a competitive nature and we love that, but it's fantastic."

Boyer has been part of the Junior Chariots for 26 years. He said it's not just a game, but a way to be yourself.

"They don't have the limitations that they think they do," said Boyer. "I think it's even more important for our friends, our family, and our communities to realize that we don't have the perceived limitations that others may think we do."

"A lot of our athletes will be able to get up out of their wheelchairs, their sports chairs that they're in today, they'll be able to go home, walk around do everything," said Mulvenna. "Our athletes that are confined to their chairs, they can do anything that any of the other athletes can do."