Birmingham joins USA Wheelchair Football League

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Move United
Move United wheelchair football photos and testimonials. Photo copyright Reed Hoffmann. Provided to Bham Now via Lakeshore Foundation

The USA Wheelchair Football League (USAWFL), which was established through a grant from the NFL, has selected Birmingham as its newest expansion team. Based at the Lakeshore Foundation, the new team’s name is the Birmingham Hammers. 

Earlier this month, the USAWFL, a program of Move United, announced the expansion of its league from four teams to nine. 

Founded in 2020, eight of the nine USAWFL teams are located in cities with NFL franchises. The exception? Birmingham.

Where are the other eight teams?

  • Chicago 
  • Los Angeles
  • Kansas City
  • Phoenix 
  • Buffalo
  • New York
  • Cleveland
  • Tampa
  • New Orleans
Move United
Move United wheelchair football. Photo copyright Reed Hoffmann. Provided to Bham Now via Lakeshore Foundation

Jeff Underwood, Lakeshore President and CEO made the following remarks about the new Birmingham Hammers football squad which will base its operations at Lakeshore.

“We are excited to be an expansion team in the USA Wheelchair Football League and to add a new high-impact sport to Lakeshore’s athletic program. We are the only team in a city without an NFL franchise. Our experience in adapted sport made Lakeshore an attractive candidate for a team.”

What is Wheelchair Football?

So, you are probably asking… What is Wheelchair Football?

According to our friends at the Lakeshore Foundation wheelchair football is a full-contact sport that is played by both men and women with a permanent disability. The sport has been played for more than 20 years across the country, but in 2020 a new, organized form of the game began under the direction of the USAWFL. Here are the playing rules.

In fact, staff members from Lakeshore and the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability, Alex Martinez and Rob Welty, served on a committee to develop rules for the league and a certification curriculum for coaches and referees.

Lakeshore Foundation’s Important Work

Birmingham, Lakeshore Foundation, rugby, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair sports, athletics
Photo via Lakeshore Foundation

Of course, for folks familiar with the incredible work of the Lakeshore Foundation, it isn’t a surprise they were chosen as the first non-NFL location.

“We have trained thousands of athletes from across our country and from around the world as an Olympic and Paralympic Training Site and continue to serve as the High Performance Maintenance Organization for USA Wheelchair Rugby. We look forward to representing Alabama in this national wheelchair football league,” Underwood noted

Game Times and How to Get Involved

Interested in playing? Lakeshore is holding tryouts on July 10th. Visit Lakeshore’s website – HERE to register or contact Rob Welty at robw@lakeshore.org or 205-313-7457 for additional details.

All nine teams will compete this fall in the inaugural USAWL season with two tournaments scheduled September 10-11 in Phoenix and October 30-31 in Chicago. More information about the league and opportunities to get involved can be found at usawfl.org.

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  • Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.