Sitting in a folding chair in front of about a dozen kids of varying ages, Jim Glatch demonstrates how to dribble a basketball and explains how to keep control.
Glatch is the head coach of the U.S. men’s Paralympic wheelchair basketball team. The kids are from Philadelphia-based Katie’s Komets wheelchair basketball program.
“You need to teach them properly and then make it fun,” Glatch says during the first day of a Komets camp held Wednesday and Thursday at the Carousel House in Fairmount Park.
Komets Program Director Jim Dauphin refers to Glatch as a “god” in the sport of wheelchair basketball. “Sports are sports,” said Dauphin. “It take coaches like Jim to show them it’s no less to be a champion as a parathlete than [as] an able-bodied athlete.”
“He took time out of his busy schedule to come here and work with us for two days,” said Keith Newerla, head coach for the Komets. He and the team are gearing up for their season to start in September.
Newerla believes that the Komets programs offers disabled kids not just fun, but also a chance to make friends in situations similar to their own.
Ten-year-old basketballer Joe Rafter has made friends with teammates over the four years he’s been playing. He says he needs work on his shooting. He hopes to one day play on the U.S Paralympic wheelchair basketball team.
Glatch and the U.S. men’s team will arrive in London for the Paralympics Aug. 26. “There’s a lot of pressure this year,” Glatch says of the team, which has not medaled in 12 years, and has not won gold for 24.
The team faces Turkey in their first game on Aug. 30.