Wheelchair softball was born 30 years ago in the Midwest by a few individuals with spinal cord injuries and lower extremity impairments, who still wanted to enjoy America’s greatest pastime. These individuals needed to develop a way of playing without the full use of their legs that would allow easy maneuverability in a wheelchair and keep the fast pace of softball. Thus was born a new game played on hard surfaces, such as a parking lot, instead of the normal grassy infield, and a 16-inch softball, which allows wheelchair players to keep one hand one the wheelchair while catching a softball without a glove.
In 1976, the National Wheelchair Softball Association (NWSA) was founded and serves as the governing body for wheelchair softball in the United States and around the world. The game is played under the official rules of the 16-inch slow pitch softball as approved by the Amateur Softball Association of America with some rule modifications that are made for the wheelchair user (See NWSA Rules). Teams throughout America compete on a regular basis and hosts several tournaments throughout the summer. NWSA holds the Wheelchair Softball World Series (WSWS) annually to determine an annual champion.
Today, NWSA governs over 30 teams worldwide. Several teams have sought and found allegiance and sponsorship with their Major League Baseball (MLB) team counterparts, such as the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, and Tampa Bay Rays. All wear official MLB logos and uniforms and compete with pride under their respective professional team’s logo. International teams are welcome to compete in the annual World Series. A team from Japan has competed in the past two WSWS.
Wheelchair softball is an exciting and challenging summer sport that enables most wheelchair users to compete. To learn more about the NWSA please browse the website or visit NWSA’s Facebook page.