We are exactly three weeks away from the opening day of the Vancouver Invitational Wheelchair Rugby Tournament! Things have started to heat up, as all clubs have submitted their rosters (with the notable exception of Team Canada’s development squad; did they get maple syrup lodged in their keyboards again? Tsk tsk, peeps.)
Today we’re going to look at some of the American clubs coming. Team USA, as a national entity, has rebounded considerably, boasting a gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Last year, USQRA brought an absolutely stacked lineup playing under the moniker USA Stripes, a composite club of veterans and invitees to their national development squad. Their composite club this year features Jeff Butler of the Texas Stampede, Joe Jackson, a regular for the Phoenix Heat, and Talbot Kennedy, of the Shepherd Smash. All three men were invited to USQRA’s national selection camp in January (though I can’t yet find who made the cut).
We also saw strong performances by both the Seattle Slam and the Portland Pounders. Keep an eye, in particular, on the Seattle Slam. The Slam play hard and bring a good crowd out with them. They’re the ones in blue & green hoodies cheering loudly from the sidelines, even during the early games.
The Seattle Slam are often favoured to win the Vancouver Invitational. The club will feature Daisuke Ikezaki once again. He’s one of the best high point players in the world; he transitions well in his own end and is practically error-free on his passing game. When he’s not training with the Seattle Slam, he can be found quarterbacking the Japanese national team, who have made gains over the past few years . They’ve improved their Paralympic standing every year since they entered the fray in 2004, and took their first medal (a bronze) in 2016.
See you in three weeks!