ThermApparel was in Kansas City, KS August 9-11 for the 43rd annual National Wheelchair Softball Association World Series. Twenty teams from all over the world met in Kansas City to compete for the world series title. The games were played out on hot concrete parking lots, next to the T-Bones Independent League Baseball stadium, and also (not quite close enough) within the shadows of Kansas Speedway.
All three of us got the chance to be there and had a wonderful time talking to the players, the coaches and their families. We had the opportunity to have members of the various teams try out our UnderCool Cooling Vest. We had an amazing amount of feedback, how it helped, what they loved and suggestions to improve it for wheelchair athletes. But talk about hot! Wow! It was in the upper 90’s all weekend and standing on the parking lot watching the games it was easily above 100ºF. We could feel the heat from the concrete parking lot moving up our legs.
It was great to be there helping out the teams mitigate the sunny, hot, humid weather, but it was just as great to watch them play ball. It’s amazing how much of our bodies we use to do something as simple as throwing a ball and watching these athletes do all this from a sitting position was incredible. Some of the outfield throws would of put Vladimir Guerrero to shame and watching them turn double plays was even more exciting than in the Major Leagues. Watching players brake one wheel to get some torgue and extra "oomph" on a throw to first was amazing.
We applaud the athletes and their families dedication to the sport, the games started at 8:30 a.m. and went all day into the evening. There were teams from all over the world, many sponsored by MLB affiliates as well as teams from Ghana and Japan! The final game was between The Nebraska Barons and the Minnesota Rollin Twins, (Big congratulations to Nebraska!) and right after the championship game some players quickly switched uniforms to put on the red, white and blue for the USA vs Japan game. And yes, an entire team came from Japan to compete.
Like with all sports it ended with a mix of smiles and disappointment: however, the families and athletes have created a community unlike we had seen before. Their ease and cander about who they are as athletes and people can’t be denied. If you ever have the opportunity to attend a game go and share in their excitement.