ATLANTA – If you put me in the fastest car on earth, I would not win the Indianapolis 500. A great machine helps, but drivers win races. Much the same can be said of power soccer players.
The chairs fly across the floor and spin with whiplash force. I know because I sat in a chair and maneuvered the joystick in an attempt to pass the ball with expert player Jerry Frick (pictured left). Frick maneuvers the chair with remarkable grace, and while he was patient with me, I repeatedly missed the ball as my chair careened out of control.
Wayne Merdinger, executive vice president and general manager of MK Battery, the sole sponsor of the United States Power Soccer Association (USPSA), also tried to maneuver the chair. Merdinger was a bit more successful, but not much.
I had the opportunity to chat with Merdinger, Frick, and Dominic Russo, president of the USPSA, and their enthusiasm was infectious. That passion spreads to players, and it ultimately leads to benefits beyond the sport. “I have seen extremely shy power wheelchair users take up the sport,” said Frick. “After a year or so, some have become social butterflies.”
For players at all levels, including the two-time world cup champions who make up the U.S. team, cost is a huge barrier, particularly for international travel. MK Battery helps defray some of those costs, but Russo and Frick are hopeful that other companies may someday choose to sponsor the sport.
And make no mistake. This is a real sport with international competitions and dedicated players. Attendees on the Medtrade show floor got a chance to see the game up close, and all who attended gained a new appreciation.
For HME providers who made the trip to Atlanta, I hope you had a wonderful show. I hope to see you at Medtrade Spring, which takes place March 30-April 1 in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.
Greg Thompson is the editor of Medtrade Monday.