Wheelchair Rugby Players Go All The Way

Katrine Mayhew
Representing: Local murderballers Clayton Braun (at right, with the ball) and Kerri Morgan (far right)
Back in January, I wrote "Ready to Rumble," a feel-good tale about the smash-happy world of quadriplegic rugby and specifically St. Louis' very own Kerri Morgan and the St. Louis Rugby Rams. Though the team didn't make the cut this past spring to qualify for the national championships, some good news just came in: Morgan and Clayton Braun, of Ferguson, were two of the twenty-four players invited by U.S. Paralympic coaches to try out for Team USQRA (United States Quad Rugby Association) in Birmingham, Alabama, July 5-8.

Braun, a defenseman, had only just finished his second season of murderball, as it's known. Morgan, on offense, was the only woman to make the list.

Both made the cut for Team USQRA, the farm squad for Team USA, the official U.S. Paralympic Team.

Chances are Braun and Morgan won't see action at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing. Instead, the U.S. Paralympic Committee plans to use the fourteen-member Team USQRA to groom the next generation of national players. Following several more training camps later this summer, the St. Louis pair will most likely travel internationally next year to compete against another developmental team. Next stops, ideally: the 2010 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships and the 2012 Paralympics -- if they keep up their workouts and foot the bills, of course. (It's a super-costly sport. The Rugby Rams don't have a team sponsor, and neither Braun nor Morgan has financial backing.)

Oh, as if that weren't a whopping number of St. Louis connections to the murderball elite, Rugby Rams coach Sue Tucker has been named one of the farm team's coaches.

-Kristen Hinman

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