CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Fighting Illini Men’s Basketball is out of town this weekend and the Women’s side does not play until Sunday, but people can get the collegiate basketball they need before then.
UI Men’s and Women’s Wheelchair Basketball are hosting their only home tournament of the season over Valentines weekend. The Women’s teams involved are also taking some extra time to honor the women who came before them.
Every Women’s team in the tourney is wearing a warm-up shirt with ‘equality’ on the front. They say it celebrates the women who helped set up the program in the ’50s.
Wheelchair basketball is a little different, but the teams will tell you it is the same as what you would watch at the State Farm Center. There is more physicality in wheelchair basketball versus running basketball. Women’s coach Stephanie Wheeler says that it is a common misconception. While honoring women with their ‘equality’ shirts, Wheeler also says they shirts show them how far they still need to go.
“We’re also here to educate and change the lens and paradigm people see disability through,” says Wheeler. “While this isn’t the only way to be disabled, I think that this is one way we can start showing people that they can and should have higher expectations of people who have disabilities.”
The teams are also collecting donations for the Sports Bra Project all weekend. The non-profit says a lack of a sports bra prevents girls from participating in athletics. Donations from the tournament will go to areas in the U.S. and abroad where they do not have access to them.
The Men’s team will have their own night of honor. They are hosting Military Appreciation Night on Saturday at 6 p.m.