The NWSA is teaming up with various organizations to develop
wheelchair softball teams and programs for children with physical
disabilities. The NWSA is currently seeking individuals to help
build this fledgling program. Our ultimate goal is to help foster a
program that provides the same confidence and team-building
techniques for children with disabilities that their able-bodied
counterparts enjoy through the participation of school-sponsored
team sports. For more info see
Teams and Programs. For pictures
Juniors Division Tournament.
If you have an interest to help promote a program for children in
your area, please
History of Wheelchair Softball and the
We may never know
who the first wheelchair athlete was that picked up a bat and a
ball and hit the parking lot. We do know that organized wheelchair softball
started in Sioux Falls, South Dakota with the inception of the
very first team - the Sioux Wheelers. Good news traveled fast
and by the mid-1970's, surrounding cities in the upper Midwest
developed their own teams such as the Courage Rolling Gophers,
Des Moines Roadrunners, and the University of Illinois wheelchair
In 1976, the
National Wheelchair Softball Association (NWSA) was formed as
the national governing body of the sport with Dave VanBuskirk
presiding as NWSA's first commissioner. Under NWSA's direction,
the league expanded in the late 1970's to include such teams as
the Quint City Roughriders and a team from Omaha.
In 1980 two teams
in particular were born - the Chicago Pacemakers and the St.
Paul Rolling Thunder. Both powerhouses, along with the Courage
Rolling Gophers boast the only true dynasties in the league's
history with the St. Paul Rolling Thunder taking the crown.
Southwest State University also joined NWSA that year.
Jon Speake took
over as NWSA commissioner in the mid-1980's and held the
position for three consecutive 7-year terms resigning prior to
his untimely death in August of 2005. Through Speake's
direction, the league expanded further.
If there was a new
team participating at the NWST back in the 1980's it was most
likely from Illinois. The state saw its share of teams. From the
University of Illinois, Chicago Pacemakers, Champaign-Urbana,
Urbana Black Knights, RIC Rollers, Chicago Sidewinders, Windy
City Snakes, to the Chicago Bulls. Other teams joining in were
the Great Plains Drifters, and Wisconsin PVA Badgers.
In the late 1980's
to early 1990's wheelchair softball expanded its boarders
throughout the Midwest developing teams such as Wright State
University, Columbus Pioneers, Kansas City Slammers and St. Louis Rams. One great
highlight of this era was a sponsorship deal fostered by the RIC
Rollers and Cubs Care which set
precedence for other teams across the country.
By the mid-1990's,
Baltimore All-Stars, Texas Stars and Colorado Rockies spread
NWSA's territory even further. The Courage Rolling Gophers split
into two new separate teams and the St. Paul Saints and Courage
Rolling Twins were born.
In the mid-to-late
1990's Texas and Colorado would join Illinois and Minnesota as
states with three or more teams. The Texas Stars broke into
three established teams, Astros Blue, Astros White and Dallas
Lighting. Colorado had four established teams at one time with
the Colorado Rockies, Blake St. Bombers, Colorado Springs
Wildcats (formerly Sky Sox), and Bolder Brewers. These programs
grew too quick too fast and consequently, these programs have
In 1998 the sport
was introduced to New York and from there spread along the coast
developing the United Spinal Mets, NEPVA Red Sox, Magee
Phillies, Brookhaven Ducks, Mauldin Mallers, Tampa Bay Devil
Rays and United Spinal Yankees.
New team names
with familiar faces came into the scene a the turn of the
century. A Toledo Silverstreaks/Columbus Pioneers team got
together to form TC United, which is now the Cleveland Indians
and women's team named the American Divas was formed.
The NWSA continues to grow and has only mentioned a brief
overview of our history and teams. If you have any historical
perspectives to add to this article please