JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With eight quad rugby teams from as far away as Canada, the 10th annual Brooks Rehabilitation Southern Slam tournament is becoming a big part of the fastest growing paralympic sport in the world.
Hosted by the division 2 national champion Brooks Bandits, the biggest quad rugby tournament in Jacksonville is gaining a reputation as one of the biggest tournaments of the season. Its something that Brooks Bandits head coach Steve Kenny did not see when he attended the first tournament as a fan 10 years ago.
"I saw it on the news and immediately had to get involved," Kenny said. "There were only a couple of teams then and now to see two here in Jacksonville and a team playing this weekend from Canada, it's turned into a great representation of quality teams who are evenly matched."
For 3rd-year quad rugby player Wesley Johnson the competition aspect is great, but it is the camaraderie that he likes the best.
"It's a great opportunity to meet people with similar disabilities," Johnson said. "You make new friends who share the same challenges and difficulties that I do."
Head coach Steve Kenny says that camaraderie is taken to another level with a small addition to their "Bandits" name. "We are really the Brooks Bandits Brothers. We refer to each other as brothers and the Bandit family, so we all recognize the challenges that we face in life that we share in common. That only makes us tighter on the court," Kelly said.
Games started on Friday and will continue throughout the weekend at Jax Ice & Sportsplex on Emerson. Saturday is fan day and the first 50 fans to the Brooks Bandits vs TIRR Texans game will receive a free t-shirt when you get in. All of the games are free and open to the public.
For more information on quad rugby, or any of the several programs that Brooks offers, please visit BrooksAdaptiveSports.com