Grant's talk highlights banquet
Former Trail Blazers forward Brian Grant was the keynote speaker on Oct. 27 as Adaptive Sports Northwest celebrated 35 years of sports programs for physically challenged residents with a banquet at the Double Tree Hotel Lloyd Center.
Grant spoke about his personal challenges, including bouts of depression, after being diagnosed with Parkinson's syndrome. He emphasized the importance of physical activity and friendships in addressing the challenges of his condition.
Athletes who participate in Adaptive Sports Northwest programs include Paralympians such as Will Groulx, who has won medals in paracycling and wheelchair rugby. But for most of the 250-300 Oregon and Southwest Washington residents who take part in programs such as handcycling, wheelchair basketball and adaptive kayaking, sports provide a unique opportunity for exercise and social interaction.
The banquet and auction was attended by 210 and netted at least $35,000 for the organization. Those are the largest numbers for the annual fundraising event, according to Adaptive Sports Northwest executive director Trisha Suhr.
Adaptive Sports Northwest has an annual budget of $285,000, much of it raised through sponsorships and in-kind donations. Costs include specialized equipment and facility rentals. Adaptive Sports Northwest also helps cover travel costs for teams, though teams and athletes are required to do their own fundraising for such trips.
Adaptive Sports Northwest supports nine sports programs: wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, goalball (a game for the visually impaired), track and field, youth swimming, adaptive kayaking, sitting volleyball and power soccer.
Sitting volleyball and power soccer were added this year. Power soccer, played on indoor courts by players in power wheelchairs, was added thanks to a grant from the Portland Timbers.
Instead of adding to its own hall of fame, this year Oregon Disability Sports focused on getting adaptive athletes recognized by the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. That goal was achieved in September when Paralympic swimmer Aaron Paulson was inducted.
During the banquet, Paulson took part in a panel of athletes discussing challenges and rewards of participating in sports. Also on the panel were Ed Suhr (wheelchair rugby), Kip Johnson (wheelchair rugby), Evita Rush (wheelchair basketball) and high school students Zabe Thomas (wheelchair basketball) and Kayla Bolnick (swimming, track and field), who is on the cross country and swimming teams at Wilsonville High.
Pilots alive, barely
The Portland Pilots are still in the running for a second straight West Coast Conference men's soccer title and/or an NCAA playoff berth, but after a 3-1 home loss to San Francisco last weekend they need some help.
The Pilots, who are 37th in the nation in RPI and have some good nonleague results on their résumé, have 10 points and a 3-1-1 record with regular-season games remaining against Gonzaga (7 p.m. Saturday at Merlo Field) and Nov. 11 at Saint Mary's.
But San Francisco and Pacific are 3-1-0 with nine points and a game in hand — they'll face each other Nov. 8 at USF. San Diego is 2-1-2 (8).
UP has the tiebreaker over Pacific, having beaten the Tigers, 1-0.
It's common for only the WCC champ to be in the NCAA postseason. The league winner gets one of 24 automatic spots in the 48-team bracket.
Pacific was invited at-large a year ago, but it was 26th in RPI — and Portland is not likely to move up much, if at all, even if it closes this season with two victories.
The lowest RPI team in 2016 to get an NCAA invite was South Carolina at No. 35.