Shawn Hardester - Wheelchair Rugby Program

When I was 22 years old, I fell out of a boat in shallow water. I landed on my head, and broke my neck. As a result, my C5 vertebrae was removed, I have no function in my fingers and my arm movement is impacted. A few years later, I found myself laying around and watching a bit too much television, and decided it was time to get myself moving a bit more. I had always loved playing sports, and was up for something new. I found out about the University of Maryland’s wheelchair rugby program and figured "why not?"

At first, I wasn’t confident that I would be able to push the wheelchair, but I tried, and sure enough, I moved. Over time, I started gaining strength and agility. I found that I was moving faster and could play longer. It's intense, and a great work out, and I love it.

Playing wheelchair rugby has also given me a great opportunity to meet people who are in the same boat as I am. We obviously play the game together in practices, scrimmages and tournaments, but there’s so much more than that. We go out and do other things together and we really motivate each other. Sometimes I see someone who has injuries like me, doing things that I have not yet accomplished. It makes me feel like I have the potential to do more. It makes me feel good about the future and what I might be able to do, down the road.