How to Get Involved With the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA)

How to Get Involved With the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA)

Many are inspired by the feats on display in Tin Soldiers. This documentary covers the lives of paralympians including gold medalist Alana Nichols. Pulse, based on the life of Oksana Masters, is also popular. (You can watch both movies for free with an Amazon Prime trial.)

Maybe you were inspired by the 2020 documentary Rising Phoenix that went behind the scenes with top athletes in the Paralympic Games. Now you might be wondering what sport is right for you.

Image of Men Playing Wheelchair BasketballWhat about basketball? If you’re a Floridian para-athlete, you might want to check out the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.


What Is the National Wheelchair Basketball Association?

Founded in 1949, the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) is the world's largest and longest-standing Disabled Sports Organization.

Its mission is to offer those with physical disabilities the chance to learn how to play wheelchair basketball and enjoy playing it, both recreationally and competitively.

The NWBA comprises 120 teams across eight different divisions of play including for youth and adult men and women and ranging from recreation to elite; there are even NWBA Intercollegiate Divisions.

Here are all eight NWBA divisions:

  • Prep - Coed Athletes 13 and under
  • Varsity - High School Athletic Programs
  • Division III (Adults)
  • Division II (Adults)
  • Division I (Adults)
  • Women's Division
  • Men’s Intercollegiate Division
  • Women's Intercollegiate Division

Every NWBA season culminates each year in March-April with the NWBA National Championship Series.

How Can I Get Involved With the NWBA?

However you want to get involved with the NWBA, there are opportunities available to suit your skills and interests, including as a:

  • Player - On a team with other players who match your physical capacities to play recreationally or compete in competitions.
  • Coach - For one of the teams
  • Officiate - At competitions
  • Classifier - To help determine and define appropriate conference and division classes
  • Volunteer - At an event or for your local team
  • Sponsor - A team, division, program, competition or event

You can register with the NWBA as an adult or junior, a non-player (such as the parent of a player) or as a team.

Where Can You Play Wheelchair Basketball?

The NWBA sponsors wheelchair basketball teams in locations throughout the country. For interested players in the state of Florida, here are just some of the options available:

  • Memorial Rehab Sharks - An Adult Division III team out of Fort Lauderdale
  • Tampa Bay Strong Dogs - An Adult Division III team out of Tampa Bay
  • University of Florida, Men - A team in the Intercollegiate Men's Division out of Gainesville
  • Brooks BullSharks - A Junior Varsity team out of Jacksonville
  • Brooks Ballers - An Adult Division III team out of Jacksonville

No experience is necessary to participate in wheelchair basketball through the NWBA, nor does it matter whether you’ve recently become disabled or have been disabled all your life.

You will need a special wheelchair suitable for playing wheelchair basketball; your everyday wheelchair will not suffice.

However, even if you don’t have one yet, most teams have extra basketball wheelchairs available for those players just getting started.

For Further Inspiration

Be inspired by what others are achieving by watching films like Tin Soldiers which covers the lives of Paralympians including gold medalist, Alana Nichols. Or watch Pulse, based on the life of Oksana Masters. (You can watch both free of charge with an Amazon Prime trial.)


Para-athletes and future para-athletes -- whether shooting for the Paris 2024 games or not -- as well as their parents can find in the NWBA a source for fun, competition and empowerment through wheelchair basketball.

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