Twin Cities wheelchair lacrosse team grows in popularity, spirit

- A new summer lacrosse league offers an alternative perspective on the game, and it's quickly becoming more popular in the metro.

Most of the players were born with a disability but learned at a young age they were not going to be hindered by it.

Maci Mauch of Champlin, Minnesota, has not let spina bifida stop her from playing softball, basketball and tennis. Although the 10-year-old said tennis is a little tricky.

Maci is one of several kids and adults playing in a weekly wheelchair sports league in New Hope where kids practice tennis and the adults play lacrosse.

The same rules apply just like in any other lacrosse game—hitting and all.

For Shawn Corbin it’s a new sport to learn and a fun way to meet people dealing with similar difficulties in life.

“It’s kind of cool to have a group of friends that understand you and are just as competitive as you,” he said.

Corbin said his coach doesn’t take it easy on them just because they’re playing in wheelchairs; he’s expected to do sprints up and chase the ball like any other player would on the field.

“Just because I’m in a wheelchair doesn’t mean I’m not a competitive person and this is a great outlet for it,” he said.

18-year-old Ben Schmitz has been playing hockey since he was little, so he said lacrosse seemed like a natural crossover for the warmer months and he loves how these leagues are taking off across the country.

“We don’t really think our disabilities hinder us in any way. We just feel like we are playing sports like anyone else. Obviously, there are differences, but the games are pretty similar from regular lacrosse,” he said.

The lacrosse league was just started this summer, and it’s become so popular they’ve extended it for two more weeks. They’re hoping to get more people signed up next year to play in tournaments across the country.

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