Windy City Warriors take on Glenbard North staff
Glenbard North High School faculty and staff have accepted the challenge of the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association, WDSRA, Windy City Warriors junior wheelchair basketball team for a fundraising game.
Both teams are expected to square off 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 17, at Glenbard North, 990 Kuhn Road, Carol Stream.
The game came about thanks to Jonathan Ruiz, a 14-year-old freshman at Glenbard North. He also is the captain and point guard for the wheelchair Warriors.
"Jon and his mother approached me at the beginning of the year," said Matt Bowser, Glenbard North assistant principal for athletics. "She was telling me about their program and what they do. She said it would be great if there was some way we could host a game and put this fundraiser together to try to help out the Windy City Warriors."
Although this is only Bowser's first year in the head athletic position, he is well aware of the school's philosophy toward helping its students.
"Our goal is we want to give our students every opportunity possible," Bowser said. "Jon is a real nice kid and he's committed to athletics. So I felt like we could help him out."
Ruiz convinced Bowser by going one-on-one against him in a game of wheelchair "p-i-g."
"He brought a wheelchair in and I said I'd like to try it out with him," Bowser said. "Obviously, Jon's got a little more experience than I do. It was fun. It was a good time. We won't talk about who won."
Trent Thenhaus, WDSRA program coordinator, is in his fourth season of coaching the Windy City Warriors. Although a couple of early season injuries to two of his starters have gotten them off to a slow start, they still are highly respected on the national scene.
"We would probably be within the top 15 to top 25 in the United States as the best junior teams in the country," Thenhaus said.
The requirements for playing junior wheelchair basketball are quite simple. You must not have graduated from high school, and you must have some kind of minimum disability in the lower extremities that would prevent you from playing regular basketball.
Currently, the Warriors varsity squad has 12 players ranging in ages from 11 to 18 years old, but don't let their youth deceive you. Thenhaus said he's confident his players will impress the crowd with their skills, and will probably have to tone it down a little against the Glenbard North staff.
"We'll take it easy on some of them," Thenhaus said. "The whole idea is to show off what kind of skills we actually do have and kind of limelight that."
It won't quite be as bad as the Globetrotters versus the Washington Generals, but consider that in some exhibitions against school faculties, the fans and students have often bought points to keep the game close. Those dollars go toward the fundraising for the Windy City programs.
Besides showcasing skills and raising money, the exhibition games serve one other purpose.
"As much as it is to show off what kinds of skills our kids have, it's also a recruiting toll," Thenhaus said. "We use it to find any of those people that don't realize that they're eligible to play. It's equally important to try and get as many people out there as possible."
To that end, Glenbard North has had little difficulty finding people willing to help out, according to Bowser.
"When people understand that it's a good cause and we're trying to help out Jon and the Windy City Warriors that's not too difficult," he said. "We have some very willing and very active staff members here at Glenbard North and they're always trying to give kids the best opportunities.
"We're trying to get some students involved as well. We have a great Super Fan section that we want to get involved. We're getting our basketball teams, the boys and girls, to volunteer and set it up and help keep score and those types of things. Our Booster Club is opening the concessions and that will go to the team as well."
With this first game not even in the books, could this become an annual affair?
"I would like that," Bowser said. "I think we could really generate a lot of interest. Hopefully we don't get dominated too badly. Hopefully they take it easy on us."
Admission for Wednesday's game is $3 per person with all proceeds going to the Windy City Warriors program. For details, call (630) 653-7000.