Players & Coaches
Name: Theodore Kyle Alvis
Date of Injury 1987
Disability: Double bi-lateral amputee ak/bk
Family: Married four kids
Education: Communications/Psychology MS Rehabilitation Counseling USA
History: Wheelchairball Twenty Years
Interests: Sports, Family, Music, Religion, Fishing, Peace Love and Happiness
Philosophy of Life: Now is the Time, This is the Place / Press on Forward
Nickname: The Godfather
Name: TJ Atchison
Birth Place: Chatom, Ala.
I am part of a very much so blended family in which I am the oldest of 6. I attend the University of South Alabama in which I am the president of SNA. After a MVA that left me paralyzed from just below the chest down, I was sent to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. Within a week of hospitalization there, I became the first patient in the U.S. to receive human embryonic stem cells. Because of this I am now co-author of a prospective book on the relationship between Christianity and human embryonic stem cells. I worked with Senator Mark Kaehey and numerous other wonderful, motivated and compassionate individuals to pass a spinal cord research act in Al. It is my goal in life to find a cure for paralysis.
Name: Edward Barnard
Birth Place: Mobile, Ala.
Played on the first wheelchair basketball team at the University of Alabama, owner of generationswebdesign.com
Name: Claire Buchanan
Birth place: Brampton, Ontario, Canada
I have previously played for the developmental team of team Canada and played two years for the University of Alabama women's basketball team and won a national championship in Denver, Colorado. Basketball is my passion and my goal is to play for team Canada in 2016.
Name: Chris Chavez
Birth Place: Mobile, Ala.
Birth Place: Gulf Coast Area
Name: Gilbert Spann
Birth Place: Gulf Coast
Married the love of my life Rachael 10 years. We are blessed with a beautiful daughter Laura. Graduated from Davidson High School and University of South Alabama with a B.S. degree in Special Education. My greatest accomplishment is having a wonderful family and being a positive role model for my students.
Name: Ashley-Nicole Ross Flowers Coordinator/Coach
Birthplace: Chatom, Ala.
Ashley-Nicole is an Assistive Technology and Certified Recreational Therapist at the Southern Miss Institute for Disability Studies’ TLC location. Ashley-Nicole loves spending time with her son, Colton Ross and her husband, Heath. Ashley-Nicole graduated from the University of South Alabama and is pursing a Master’s Degree from Southern Miss. Ashley-Nicole loves finding new and innovative ways to adapt anything to make life easier for anyone with a disability. Ashley-Nicole loves all the sports in life including favorites -- fishing, hunting, and softball. Ashley-Nicole is also a Regional Classifier for the NWBA.
The University of Southern Mississippi Technology Learning Center (TLC) Golden Eagles wheelchair basketball team closed out its first season by winning the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) Gulf Coast Conference Championship held at Jackson State University.
The weekend-long tournament featured six teams from southeastern states vying for the title of NWBA Gulf Coast Conference Champion.
Members of the Southern Miss Golden Eagles wheelchair basketball team for the 2011-2012 season include team captain Theodore “Teddy” Alvis, Timothy Atchison Jr., Edward Barnard, Claire Buchanan, Christopher Chavez, Blake Loftin, Gene Roberts III, and Coach Gil Spann, who also plays for the team.
The team, being new to the NWBA, is not currently nationally ranked. Competing in two national tournaments, the team placed second in both tournaments to the same nationally-ranked team. “I have played wheelchair basketball for 20 years and this team is very fresh, very energetic and has very strong potential to be a nationally-ranked team,” said Alvis.
As a member of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association, the mission of the Southern Miss Golden Eagles wheelchair basketball team is to provide people with various disabilities the opportunity to compete with fellow athletes and to promote awareness for people with disabilities.
“Recreation is so vital to good health, and good health is a goal for everyone,” said Dr. Royal Walker, executive director for the Institute for Disability Studies (IDS) at Southern Miss. “IDS is excited to be able to support the TLC Golden Eagles wheelchair basketball team. With everyone encouraged to be more physically active for better health these days, it’s great to have these athletes leading the way for our coast community.”
In addition to the Gulf Coast Conference Championship and two national tournaments, the team played three non-conference tournaments during the season. The team is getting ready for the next season, which begins in September.
“We would like more players to carry a team of 10,” added Alvis. “We recruit through our affiliation with the Veterans Affairs, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, word-of-mouth and the Wounded Warrior Project, to name a few.”
Interested persons who want to be part of the Golden Eagle wheelchair basketball team have to be physically unable to play regulation stand-up basketball. The current team includes members with spinal cord injuries, birth defects, war veterans and accident victims. As a team within the NWBA, the TLC Golden Eagles join over 130 wheelchair basketball teams competing on a national level.
“The TLC Golden Eagles wheelchair basketball team has made some extraordinary accomplishments with this being the first year of the program,” said Ashley-Nicole Ross Flowers, coach and TLC sponsor for the team. “We are grateful to the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services for giving us this grant which allows Southern Miss to have its own wheelchair basketball team.”
In addition to being the home of the Golden Eagles wheelchair basketball team, TLC serves as a lending library of specialized adapted toys for children with disabilities and assistive technology for adults. TLC not only lends equipment, but provides evaluations and training on assistive technology for people with special needs. Additionally, TLC hosts adapted recreation and sports programs which offer children and adults the opportunity to enjoy leisure activities the same way as people without disabilities.