In preparing for the upcoming season, seven members of the Technology Learning Center (TLC) Golden Eagles wheelchair basketball team at The University of Southern Mississippi recently attended a basketball camp in New Orleans.
During the three-day camp, members learned many skills to be used both on and off the court. Blake Loftin of Mobile, Ala., team captain of the TLC Golden Eagles wheelchair basketball team, said the camp “helped build camaraderie, while also being fun and hard work.”
“I’m glad we could attend the camp and I look forward to our team continuing to improve,” added Loftin. “Our goal is to win the national championship at the end of the season. We have the talent and ability, so long as we keep up the hard work, we can succeed in the end.”
While at camp, members took part in a variety of lessons to improve their skills both individually and with teammates. These lessons included drills for weaving, hand speed and shooting, as well as scrimmages and 3-on-3 tournaments.
“This camp enhanced the skills of some of our veteran players while our new players learned even more about the game,” said Ashley-Nicole Ross Flowers, coach and TLC sponsor for the team. “It not only built relationships through teamwork, but it helped to create a stronger bond among teammates. Outside of team practices, games and expositions, attending a well-organized camp truly benefits an athlete in so many ways.”
The team, which practices twice weekly and on alternating weekends, currently has nine team members. Loftin, who has played with the Golden Eagles for three seasons, has decided this will be his final season with Southern Miss. While he is working to one day play internationally for a Paralympic team, he credits his time with Southern Miss as helping him reach that goal.
“Playing for Southern Miss helped me look toward the next level,” said Loftin. “With game-time experience, I’ve been able to realize my ultimate potential. I have greater confidence, and being with the Golden Eagles has helped me to better develop my ability.”
The upcoming season for the TLC Golden Eagles wheelchair basketball team is funded by Project POP through the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services. The team, which is registered with the National Wheelchair Basketball Association, is currently selecting the best showcase tournaments for the team’s upcoming season. The goal of the team is to qualify for the national tournament held in April.
In addition to being the home of the Golden Eagles wheelchair basketball team, TLC serves children and adults with disabilities through assistive technology, evaluation, consultation and recreation. Located on the university’s Gulf Park campus in Long Beach, TLC is part of the Southern Miss Institute for Disability Studies, Mississippi’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Research, Education and Service.
For more information about the Southern Miss Technology Learning Center, call 228.214.3400.