Junior Chariots win national championship

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

Those of us who write for weekly publications face certain deadline limitations that every now and then force us to take a pass on some stories we’d like to write about, but have dismissed because of their timeliness. At first glance, I thought one of those types of stories landed in my e-mail box last Saturday (April 5). It concerned an event that took place yesterday (Tuesday, April 8).

After sleeping on it and trying to figure out a way I could make it work, I decided this story was too good to ignore, even if it didn’t make it in our paper in time to inform the public of yesterday’s celebration.

It concerns a certain basketball team winning a national championship. I’m not talking about the men’s teams from Kentucky or Connecticut, either. This team won’t garner the attention those teams will. This team is from right here in Rockford.

Saturday, April 5, the Junior Chariots Wheelchair Basketball Team won the Junior Varsity Division of the 2014 National Wheelchair Basketball Associations’ 2014 National Tournament held in Louisville, Ky. They beat the Junior Sioux Wheelers from Sioux Falls, S.D., by 15 points, 45-30.

Chariots General Manager Paula Reiter said: “The Junior Chariots have never won a national tournament in the team’s 19-year history. We worked hard to get to this point, but didn’t go into this tournament expecting to be No. 1 in the end. We played against some of the best players in the nation, but we pulled together, and now the national spotlight is on the Junior Chariots. We are making history, and this is a moment nobody will ever forget.”

Junior Chariots team member Jake Gregor brought home the tournament’s Most Valuable Player Award.

The Junior Chariots basketball team is composed of eight members, ranging in age from 8 to 18. Members include Joel Boomer, Jessie Garrett, Will Glendenning, Gregor, Nikki McGee, Brenden Ojibway, Cameron Poole and Peyton Withrow. The Junior Chariots are coached by Justin South, along with Assistant Coach Dominique Walker.

The team had a public celebration yesterday afternoon at Midway Village Museum Park. I hope many of you reading this were at that party! This team represented Rockford well and deserves all the accolades we can bestow upon them, even if it’s a little bit late.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.

From the April 9-15, 2014 issue

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