In the state of Colorado, there are two professional lacrosse teams that are often front and center: the Denver Outlaws of Major League Lacrosse and the Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League. But this weekend, it’s the Rolling Mammoth who are rolling into the spotlight.
“Most people on the team are in a wheelchair all the time. From skiing [accidents], military accidents, to car accidents,” says team captain and founding member Daniel Hersh.
Hersh was involved in a life-altering motocross accident in 2005. He broke three vertebrae in his back and was paralyzed from the sternum down.
“It took a couple years of just trying to learn how to live life again,” Hersh explained. “When I found lacrosse, everything started coming together for me again, mentally, physically, just all around.”
Hersh helped form the Rolling Mammoth in 2011 after going to a Mammoth game. Now the team has grown from two guys tossing around a ball to 12 members with a weekly-organized practice.
Dan Rose joined the team three years ago after moving to the area from Wisconsin. Rose joined the Army after graduating from high school but was injured in 2011 while on duty in Afghanistan.
“I got hit by an IED and so I was paralyzed so I was in a tough spot,” Rose recalled. “I honestly thought that my life was going to be over tight after the doctor told me you’ll never be able to walk again.”
But like Hersh, Rose found an outlet with adaptive sports.
“It gives us back that you know being able to get out there and compete,” added Rose. “And for the 40 or 50 or so minutes we’re playing in a game, it’s like you can’t even think about your disability and it’s an awesome experience.”
The Mammoth will host the biggest tournament in wheelchair lacrosse history this weekend at Wheel Park in Aurora. 10 teams from San Diego to New York will compete in the two-day tournament.
“We’re really excited about having it here in Colorado. I mean, it’s unreal,” said Hersh.
For more information on this years' national tournament, go to http://www.wheelchairlacrosse.com/nationals/.