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Jacksonville team looks to defend national title in Murderball tournament

Brooks Bandits among 8 teams competing in 10th annual tournament this weekend


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Brooks Bandits will be looking to defend their Division 2 National Championship title as they compete against seven other teams from around the country in the 10th Annual Brooks Rehabilitation southern Slam Quad Ruby Tournament this weekend.

The games kicked off Friday and will continue through Sunday.

Quad rugby -- also known as Murderball -- is a full contact wheel sport played by people with physical disabilities. It was developed in Canada and is now an official Paralympic sport played internationally with 45 teams in the U.S. alone.

To say the sport is intense in an understatement, which is why it's known as Murderball. To score, a player must get a volleyball across the court and past the goal line. 

The home team includes No. 9 Ronnie Adams Jr., who's from a small town in North Carolina and was involved in a bad wreck when he was 18. 

"I broke my neck, spinal chord injury, so I have limited hand function and I'm paralyzed from the chest down," Adams said.

Adams admits the news of his condition was hard to swallow. After a couple years of rehab, he learned about quad rugby and now plays for the Bandits in Jacksonville.

"We practice two times a week for three hours. It's a lot of cardio, a lot of extra weightlifting," he said. "You're only as limited as you let yourself be. That's my motto."

Players are strapped into specially-made sports chairs with angled wheels. 

"I also have my feet strapped in so when I go over. I stay in the chair."

Adams' family members said the game changed his outlook on life and has given him a sense of normalcy.

"If he hadn't of come here and gotten into this sport, he'd still be upstairs in the house. He'd give up," said Ronnie Adams Sr., his father. 

Although it can get extremely competitive on the court, it creates a support team that can't be beat. 

"Each and every one of us are friends off the court," Adams said. 

Admission is free to the tournament, which is being held at Jacksonville Ice and Sportsplex.