By Elissa Candiotti EAST SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — I was tired, out of breath, and overwhelmed. Each motion was like a movement back in time, thrusting me into a world of learning how to walk or swim all over again. Jim Sefick, the Coach of CNY United Power Soccer Team, dared me to play wheelchair power soccer.
“If you’re going to report on the sport, you should know how to play it,” Sefick said.
I accepted the challenge.
The teammates shouted, crashed into each other, and fought for the ball like they do every Friday night at East Syracuse Elementary School. It was intimidating. But I squeezed into the black wheelchair anyway and moved my joystick forward to join the players on the court. Immediately, I smashed into the goal post.
Clearly, maneuvering the wheelchair was far from easy. The joystick controls the wheelchair’s direction and speed. While I was fixated on it, some players were making 360-degrees spins and racing full-speed down the court.
After nearly an hour of practice, I was finally able to use my wheelchair to kick the ball. However, since I was much better at waiting for the ball to roll to me, I volunteered to be goalie.
As I sat between the goal posts, I had a full view of the court. I watched the teammates move fluidly, critique one another, and then cheer for each other. It was a moment of awe for me. I had a perception of what this sport was going to be, and I was wrong.
As a recreational athlete, I was surprised to realize that this was one of the hardest sports I’ve ever played. It may not be as physically demanding as other sports but it is undoubtedly, a mental game. And I am so glad I played it.