"Power soccer comes to Indianapolis

The smell of hot tires. The sound of machines whirring past. The crunch of competitors making contact. No, you’ll have to wait until July for NASCAR to return to Indianapolis, but the 2007 Power Soccer National Tournament is being held June 7-9 at the Fishers Fieldhouse, and it’s quickly becoming a popular four-wheeled sport.

Power soccer is a sport designed for wheelchair-bound people, based on the original sport. “It’s the first time I’ve gotten to play a sport like this and actually be in a competitive league,” said Katie Dickey, a member of RHI Sudden Impact.

Sudden Impact, based in Carmel, was last year’s runner-up at the national tournament. This year, with new universal rules and a tight team, the squad is a favorite to overtake reigning champ Hollister, Calif.

Dominic Russo coaches Sudden Impact, assistant coaches on the U.S. national team and is president of the United States Power Soccer Association. Coach Russo is also father to Natalie and J.C., both power soccer athletes. In 2003, J.C. was the person who got the ball rolling on power soccer in Indiana.

“J.C. was exposed to it in Tennessee at his MDA camp,” Dickey said, “and he brought home the rules and he said, ‘Dad, we’ve got to play this game.’”

Twelve people showed up for the original clinic and Sudden Impact was formed. The current lineup is composed of the Russos, Katie and Jordan Dickey, Andrew “Sparky” Seever and Ginney Munson.

Currently, there are eight teams and 100 players in Indiana. At the national tournament, 21 teams from all around the country, featuring 160 athletes, will be competing for two titles.

Sudden Impact and their rivals from Greenwood, the Circle City Rollers, play in Division 1, and two other RHI-sponsored teams from the area will play for the Division 2 crown. Although the Rollers and the Impact are in separate pool play, Russo hopes “to meet them in the finals. We hope it’s an all-Indiana game.”

Rivalries and competition led to the growth of the game in the state and has also brought change to the players’ lives.

The team will rely on goalie Munson to stop the other teams’ talented athletes. Munson didn’t seek to become the team goalie when she began playing, but, “I liked goalie a little bit, because I didn’t have to worry about scoring goals, and then once I started everybody called me ‘The Wall,’ because everybody thought I was so good at stopping them.”

“Power soccer is not an ‘everyone wins’ sport. It’s a real sport, it’s highly competitive and it’s rewarding for everyone. Power soccer brings all of the life skills that sports bring to able-bodied people,” Russo said.

Opening ceremonies Thursday morning will include Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, followed by two days of intense tournament play. Sudden Impact opens up pool play against BORP Bay Cruisers at 12:30 p.m. Thursday. Circle City starts their tournament against Arizona Heat at 11:15 a.m.

About power soccer

Power soccer is played by athletes who use powered wheelchairs. The chairs are regulated to the same top speed and outfitted with footguards attached to the front of the chair that players use to kick the ball. The game is played on a basketball court by two four-member teams who attempt to advance the ball into a goal about 20 feet wide. Participants include folks with quadriplegia, multiple sclerosis, head trauma, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and other disabilities.

This competitive sport has been played in various countries around the world for more than 30 years. The U.S. Power Soccer Association (www.powersoccerusa.net) was recently created to govern power soccer in the United States. The Fédération Internationale de Powerchair Football Association (www.fipfa.org) has 10 country members with more joining this summer. The USPSA is sending a U.S. team to Japan in October to compete at the first-ever World Cup for Powerchair Football.

What: 2007 Power Soccer National Tournament

When: Thursday, June 7-Saturday, June 9

Where: Fishers Fieldhouse, 11825 Technology Drive Fishers, Indiana 46034