Two players in front of the Ability360 logo.

By Jennifer Longdon
Photos by Loren Worthington

The Ability360 Scorpions wheelchair lacrosse team finished second at this weekend’s Southwestern Tournament held at the 360 Center; an impressive feat in their first season of play. The sport, adapted from standard lacrosse in 2010 by the now San Diego Rip Tide has a growing fan base.

Adaptation for wheelchair play did not remove the thunderous body checks and aggressive slashing to player’s forearms that are hallmarks of the sport. Wheelchair lacrosse follows the same rules as a typical game with limited alterations: teams use a low-bounce ball which is heavier and denser, and two defenders on each team may use a longer, 50” stick. Each team fields 8 players on a court much like a hockey rink. Play is continuous, so substitution of players happens on the fly. The court and the rules appear to be a mash-up of the most exciting parts of hockey and soccer. Games are four 15-minute quarters and like hockey, players can face time off the court for penalties and infractions.

“What does it take to be a goalie?” I asked Scorpion’s goalie, Tim Surry.

“Losing the fear of getting hit by the ball.” He replied.

Then he proudly displayed the fist-sized deep purple bruises splotched on his arms and shoulders. The crosse (game stick) accelerates the dense rubber ball at speeds of 40 to 60 MPH so that getting hit with a ball is substantial. Surry’s own shot has been clocked at a respectable 53 MPH. Lacrosse is played in a typical sports chair. Players wear limited protective gear consisting of a helmet with face guard, padded gloves, chest, elbow and knee pads. Goalies add shin guards.

Four lacrosse players around a goal net.
Three Lacrosse players on the court.
Lacrosse players around a goal net.

Saturday’s tournament brought the National champion San Diego Rip Tide and the Denver Rolling Mammoths to town. The San Diego Rip Tide dominated the tournament with a 2-0 record, Scorpions were 1 and 1 and the Rolling Mammoths lost both competition games.

Sunday was a day of exhibition play with Scorps’ goalie, Surry and the Rip Tide goalie filling in for the Rolling Mammoths whose goalie was injured in Saturday’s tournament.

Wheelchair Lacrosse Nationals will be held in Ocean City Maryland on August 13 and 14.

The lacrosse season runs from May thru the end of August. The Ability360 Scorpions practice every Monday at the Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center. Adults interested in trying the sport are welcome to scrimmage with the team on Mondays from 6:00PM until 8:00PM through the season. Ability360 supplies all the equipment needed to play except the Advil.