The inaugural Eastern Washington University Wheelchair Basketball Tournament, held at Reese Court on Oct. 21-22, drew hundreds of spectators and proved to be a successful event.
“There was a big crowd here and we got to show them what wheelchair basketball is all about,” says Head Wheelchair Basketball Coach David Evjen.
In addition to EWU, a team from the University of Arizona traveled to Cheney to compete in the tournament along with local teams from ParaSport Spokane and Team St. Luke’s. The latter two teams belong to the National Wheelchair Basketball Association, while Eastern and Arizona are part of the Intercollegiate Division. Although EWU’s team is coed, it is among a handful of coed collegiate teams that compete in the men’s division.
Because wheelchair basketball games are regularly played in recreation centers, the opportunity to play the sport in a bigger arena was welcome, says Evjen. “The University of Arizona really liked that we got to play on Reese Court. That was a big plus for this tournament.”
The visibility of the tournament, which received news coverage from media sponsors KHQ-SWX and other stations, was also a big plus for the program, the coach says. “I think this could help with recruitment a lot, especially with athletes from our close neighboring states, like Oregon, Idaho and even Nevada and Utah.”
Evjen hopes to make the tournament an annual event. Because collegiate wheelchair basketball teams are spread out across the United States —with the teams as far away as New York and Alabama—getting in a full season of 25 or so games can strain travel budgets.
To offset costs and improve competition, each program tries to host one annual tournament where teams can get in multiple games, he explains.
Evjen credits generous sponsors for helping to create this year’s successful event. Major sponsors of the tournament include BECU and Amazon. Supporting sponsors included MultiCare, Spokane Hoopfest Association and Waddell’s Neighborhood Pub & Grille.
Volunteers who provided support with logistics, recording of scores and other key functions contributed to the event’s overall success, says Evjen. “It takes a lot of moving parts to be able to host a tournament like this.”
Here are the two-day results for the tournament:
Game Results for Friday, Oct.21
10 a.m. – EWU vs. AZ (AZ 55 – EWU 34)
Noon – EWU vs. ParaSport D2 (EWU 46 – PS 35)
2 p.m. – St. Luke’s vs. AZ (AZ 63 – St. Luke’s 44)
4 p.m. – St. Luke’s vs. ParaSport D2 (PS 49 – St. Luke’s 46)
6 p.m. – AZ vs. EWU (AZ 81 – EWU 44)
Game Results for Saturday, Oct 22
9 a.m. – AZ vs. ParaSport D2 (AZ 51 – PS 29)
11 a.m. – St. Luke’s vs. EWU (EWU 64 – St. Luke’s 47)
1 p.m. – ParaSport D2 vs. St. Luke’s (PS 48 – St. Luke’s 44)
3 p.m. – ParaSport D2 vs. EWU (PS 33 – EWU 32)