California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

Golden State Road Warriors make home at East Bay

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The Golden State Road Warriors run a play during a practice at Cal State East Bay on Oct. 25 at Pioneer Gymnasium.

The Golden State Road Warriors run a play during a practice at Cal State East Bay on Oct. 25 at Pioneer Gymnasium.

Kestutis Rushing/Contributor

Kestutis Rushing/Contributor

The Golden State Road Warriors run a play during a practice at Cal State East Bay on Oct. 25 at Pioneer Gymnasium.

Christopher George,
Contributor

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The squeak of wheels and clanking of metal are not sounds often heard on a basketball court. And yet, as the Golden State Road Warriors wheelchair basketball team go through practice drills, the crunch and crash of metal hitting metal as they fight for a better defensive position is all part of the game.

The Road Warriors have come up to Cal State East Bay since 2012 to practice and have held one tournament on campus. As they gear up for their regular season that will begin in November, the Road Warriors have been coming up every week to practice on campus.

“It gave me an opportunity to compete again,” said Chuck Gill who has been playing wheelchair basketball for 29 years and has been part of the Road Warriors since 1991. “To see more of the world than I would ever have seen without it, the people that I have met and just the building of the self confidence. It’s affected so much of my overall spectrum of life. It’s a major part of pretty much everything I do.”

Gill has been in a wheelchair since 1982 when he was diagnosed with Spinal Meningitis as a senior in high school. Spinal meningitis, according to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is an infection of the fluid and membranes around the brain and spinal cord, which once infected can spread rapidly through the body.

“As I got sick, slowly different parts of my body and use of things began to deteriorate,” said Gill. “After that I started rehabilitation. I was going to different rehabs and was on a mission of ‘what can I get back?’ First I was trying to walk again but once I saw that that wasn’t a realistic goal. It was trying to get back what I can and how to live the best life I can live in the situation I am in”

While the entire Road Warriors team and NWBA uses wheelchairs, players have various disabilities and degrees of paralysis.

The Golden State Road Warriors team is part of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA). The league was created  in the wake of World War II when patients in Veterans Administration hospitals began playing wheelchair basketball while being treated for injuries. The NWBA has now grown to over 200 wheelchair basketball teams across 22 conferences.

In 1993, The Golden State Road Warriors became affiliated and sponsored by The Golden State Warriors. The Road Warriors participate with team activities such as halftime shows and doing interactive activities at schools and companies.

The NWBA version of basketball is very similar to collegiate basketball rules. While most are the same, the one large difference is the Player Classification rule. Player Classification, as it is explained in the official NWBA Rulebook, is a number that is designated to all players based on their specific disability.

A player is designated a number from one to 4.5 depending on the severity of their disability. A player who is paralyzed from the breastbone down would be a one while a player with their foot amputated would be a 4.5. When added up, a team’s five players on the court must not exceed 15 or else a technical foul is called.

Head Coach Paul Jackson, who has been with the Road Warriors for 41 years, believes wheelchair basketball looms large not only in his life but the lives of his players.

“To me when you can do something that you enjoy, get a lot of satisfaction from it, keep coming back, you don’t ever want to stop,” said Jackson, who has the use of both his legs but spends practice entirely in a wheelchair alongside his players.

The Road Warriors will hold their home games at San Jose State’s gymnasium. The team will travel to play in tournaments all across the country including San Diego, Sacramento, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Kentucky.

The team will conclude their season in April when the travel to Louisville for the final tournament of the year. The team has held one tournament on campus before and would like to hold another partly as a thank you to the university.

“Cal State East Bay gives us the gym for practices,” said Jackson. “We would love to give something back and hold a tournament up here.”

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Golden State Road Warriors make home at East Bay