The Texas Stampede wheelchair rugby team left an indelible mark at the demolition derby in Birmingham, Alabama, securing a triumphant weekend February 2 - 4, 2024. Their dominance was evident as they clinched victories over formidable opponents, including Lakeshore Demolition, WWAR, Shepherd Smash, and the Boise Bombers. The climax of the tournament was a thrilling rematch against the Bombers in the final, where the Stampede's consistent performance and strategic prowess propelled them to victory, solidifying their standing on the wheelchair rugby circuit.
Player-coach Gabriel Garcia's influence was not only felt on the court but also acknowledged with the prestigious sportsmanship award. Reflecting on the team's collective performance, Garcia expressed his satisfaction, stating, "I was really pleased with the way we played this weekend. I believe we have a good foundation going into the next few months of the season." With an eye on the national championship in May, Garcia emphasized the importance of conditioning and strategic preparation, setting the stage for an exciting upcoming tournament in Dallas.
Veteran player Bryan Kirkland, a cornerstone of the Stampede's success, played a vital role in the team's victories, showcasing his experience and leadership. “The weekend's impressive performance established a strong foundation for the upcoming months, instilling confidence in the team's ability to compete at the highest level”. Kirkland said.
As the Stampede celebrate their triumphs in Birmingham, they are now poised for an exciting season ahead, with a firm commitment to defending their national championship title in May.
Tournament best in class honors were rightfully bestowed upon Alejandro Pabon and Earl Bowser, acknowledging their outstanding contributions. The spotlight also shone on newcomer Josh Smith, who continued to make waves with a breakout season for the Stampede, adding depth and dynamism to the team. Additionally, Paralympian and high pointer Sebastien Verdin delivered another standout performance, further solidifying his reputation. Notably, Verdin is set to join the French national team in preparation for upcoming events in Europe, marking a significant milestone in his growing career.
For those eager to follow the Stampede's journey and stay updated on their upcoming challenges, www.fearthesteer.org is the go-to source for comprehensive information.
Alejandro Pabon, a formidable athlete with an impressive sports journey, continues to leave an indelible mark in the world of adaptive sports. A graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, Pabon has excelled in every adaptive sport he has embraced, showcasing his versatile athletic prowess. Currently employed at Per4Max, Alejandro is not only a former member of Team USA but also a vital part of the Texas Stampede wheelchair rugby team.
Having contributed to the Stampede's national championship win last year, Alejandro Pabon is now on a mission to defend their title in Tampa, Florida, this year. Reflecting on his sports journey, Pabon shared, "Being introduced to adaptive sports has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. Sports was not only a way for me to stay in shape; it helped me develop character and teach me discipline." Pabon expressed his passion for wheelchair rugby and the newfound love for wheelchair football, aiming to add a football championship to his already illustrious sporting resume.
As part of the Dallas Cowboys wheelchair football team, Alejandro Pabon will be competing on Tuesday, February 6, adding another milestone to his impressive career. His journey from an eager and energetic youngster to a seasoned and passionate leader reflects the transformative power of sports. Fans and supporters can follow Alejandro's accomplishments and cheer for him at www.fearthesteer.org, celebrating the difference-maker that he is on and off the field.
The Texas Stampede wheelchair rugby team showcased their dominance at the demolition derby in Birmingham, Alabama, going 2-0 in Friday's matches with victories over host Lakeshore and WWAR. The stampede's impressive start set the stage for Saturday's crucial matches against Shepherd and Boise, both featuring veteran and former USA players. The team, aiming to defend their national championship title in May, recognized the importance of setting a high standard for the rest of the year.
In their first Saturday match against Shepherd Smash, the Stampede, donned in new black singlets, displayed their determination to turn the lights out on the Smash early. Despite trailing early, the team, led by newcomer Josh Smith in his first tournament start, rallied with offensive prowess and strategic stops. Smith's impact as a .5 player brought a fresh perspective, proving effective against defensive strategies employed by opposing teams.
Texas introduced a zone defense for the first time in the tournament, showcasing adaptability. The Stampede quickly pushed the score to 28-14 by halftime, providing Coach Garcia with the opportunity to rest key player Verdin, who had played the majority of minutes on Friday. The absence of Verdin was hardly felt as the lineup of Kirkland, Pabon, Bowser, and Smith extended the lead to 42-25 going into the fourth quarter, securing a 52-31 victory.
In the battle of the unbeaten, Texas faced the Boise Bombers, led by Kory Putterbaugh and CJ Brown, balanced by Canadian athlete Ben Perkins. The Stampede's starting lineup of Verdin, Pabon, Kirkland, and Bowser wasted no time in establishing a five-point lead in the first quarter. Pabon and Verdin's one-two punch on offense and defense propelled the Stampede to a 12-point margin at halftime. Unrelenting pressure in the backcourt and in the key secured a convincing 62-33 victory, propelling the Stampede to the championship game on Sunday.
Coach Garcia expressed satisfaction, stating, "Another good day for us! We worked on a few things from yesterday, and the team responded well with good communication throughout the day." Looking ahead to the championship game against the Boise Bombers at 9 AM on Sunday, Garcia said, "We are excited about tomorrow. Pulling everything together for the last game would be great!" For live updates, follow all the action at www.fearthesteer.org.