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Movie stars join quad rugby

Jake Lacey/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Pre-physiological sciences sophomore Travis Anderson, left, and pre-computer science sophomore Pat Atwell stretch before their team's quad rugby practice in the Rec Center yesterday afternoon. The team will host an exhibition with para-athletes from the movie 'Murderball' today at the Alumni Plaza.
By Anthony D. Ávila
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, December 1, 2005
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'Murderball' cast to play with squad to raise awareness

If you hear a noisy commotion of clanging metal today near the Alumni Plaza, don't be too alarmed - it's the sound of the quad rugby team colliding in its athletically souped-up wheelchairs outside for the second time this year.

The event is part of the Disability Resource Center's "Disability Reframed," a series organized each semester to promote awareness of the disabled community by bringing it into the public eye, said Bryan Barten, a disability specialist with the DRC.

The UA quadriplegic rugby team will team up with two athletes, Andy Cohn and Scott Hogsett, who starred in the recent quad rugby documentary "Murderball," in a four-on-four exhibition game at noon near the Alumni Plaza, Barten said.

Playing outside with the recent wave of cool weather will be easier for the players, who usually play inside air-conditioned gyms and aren't used to outside heat like they endured last spring, said Gabe Nyrkkanen, a quad rugby team member.

After the exhibition game, "Murderball" will show for free from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Gallagher Theater, followed by a question-and-answer session with star athletes Cohn and Hogsett, Barten said.

"Murderball" is groundbreaking because it uses people with disabilities to portray the lives of people within their community, as opposed to the common practice of using able-bodied actors in such roles, Barten said.

"(Murderball) shows the true side to disabilities, not what Hollywood portrays," Barten said. "We can't put everybody in a box because everyone's experience is a little different."

Nyrkkanen, a special education and rehabilitation graduate student, said the movie doesn't glamorize the lives of people with disabilities, but shows exactly what could be viewed in his own home.

"The movie takes an insider perspective, right inside these guys' conversation," he said. "It's like if you were to come over to my house, you'd hear and see the same thing."

The attitude on campus toward the disabled community has improved, Barten said, which shows the series is making an impact at a university that already has a strong and diverse program.

"We're probably the most comprehensive disability resource center in the whole country," Barten said.

Chad Cohn, a quad rugby team member, said increased awareness and movies like "Murderball" could help push the quad rugby team, which is the only collegiate team in the nation, to win a national championship. Last year they placed fourth in a national tournament comprising other quad rugby teams.

Chad Cohn, who has no relation to Andy Cohn, is a Pima Community College engineering sophomore who is playing on the UA quad rugby team until he can transfer to the UA.

"I think with everything that the U of A has to offer, (more support) could really help bring in stronger athletes," said Chad Cohn. "It's probably a couple of years away, but with the young talent that's coming in, we should have a legitimate shot for the national title."

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