Law-some Start

Candice Law makes her debut at the women’s and military wheelchair basketball national championships in Ft. Wayne

It was a busy first day for Candice Law at the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) women’s and military wheelchair basketball national championships.

But it couldn’t have been more perfect.

In her inaugural game as coach for both a military and wheelchair basketball team, the Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets picked up a last-second 42-39 first-round NWBA Military Division Tournament win over the Wolfpack Vets early Friday afternoon at the Plassman Athletic Center at Turnstone Center for Children & Adults With Disabilities in Fort Wayne, Ind. Then, as a player, Law’s second-seeded Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets women’s wheelchair basketball team rolled to a 44-24 late-afternoon quarterfinal game victory over the No. 10 seed Cincinnati Lady Dragons in the NWBA’s Women’s Division Tournament.

Candice Law, standing, coached the Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets Military Division team in their opening game National Wheelchair Basketball Association tournament in Fort Wayne, Ind. (Photo by John Groth).


Two games, two victories — and, for Law, it was a whole bunch of fun.

This year’s Military Division had six teams — three more than in last year’s inaugural season. Charlotte was one of the new teams.

In its opening Military Division game, Charlotte edged past the Wolfpack in the final minute. The Rollin’ Hornets led by nine at halftime before losing the lead and rallying late.

With Charlotte trailing 39-38, the Rollin’ Hornets’ Jesse Lind made a short inside bank shot to put them up 40-39 with 40 seconds to go. After a Wolfpack turnover, Charlotte’s Dale Thomas had a chance to increase the lead, but he missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw opportunity with 14.9 seconds remaining.

A lucky bounce went their way, though. Charlotte teammate Brent Garlic grabbed the rebound, skirted the front court out-of-bounds line and sideline and then passed the ball back inside to Thomas, who was fouled with 7.5 seconds left. This time, the 32-year-old Thomas made both free throws to put Charlotte up three points — and the Wolfpack missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

An Army veteran, Thomas served from 2010 to 2014 as an infantryman. He was injured later — in June 2019 — sustaining a level T12 spinal-cord injury from a fall off a ladder at work. This is just his second year playing wheelchair basketball (he also plays for the Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets Adult Division II team) and he thought the military team gelled quickly.

“Honestly, I think we just have a great, well-rounded group of guys from our area. Great shooters, great communication. Great ball-passing,” says Thomas, a Charlotte, N.C., resident. “So, I think just overall we’re just running efficiently as a team.”

Law has been involved with wheelchair basketball for years. She’s coached able-bodied kids’ basketball before and played wheelchair basketball the past seven years for Charlotte.

After sustaining a right ankle injury while playing college basketball for NCAA Division II Tusculum University in Tennessee in 2003 and going through a series of surgeries, Law finally found wheelchair basketball in 2017 and started playing. Four years ago, doctors determined her leg couldn’t be salvaged anymore, and she had her right leg amputated below the knee.

A Charlotte resident, Law loves the wheelchair basketball community — and she enjoyed that the veterans adapted and told her they wanted more of her direct coaching style.

“It was great. These guys are great. They’re experienced. They’ve got great character and attitudes. And that makes a big difference in our ability to execute, because they’re really supportive of each other. So, they did a really, really good job,” Law says.

Charlotte’s Military Division team finished 2-0 in pool play during the opening day, beating the Wolfpack Vets and Team Paralyzed Veterans of America, 57-42, in its second game as Mike Godsey helped out as coach.

More Double Duty

Law wasn’t the only player-coach helping out and pulling double-duty.

U.S. Paralympic women’s wheelchair basketball coach and five-time Paralympian Christina Schwab filled in for Cincinnati Dragons head coach Jacob Counts during their opening morning game and guided them to first-round 43-34 win over No. 7 seed Mary Free Bed.

Christina Schwab, middle in blue shirt, coaches the No. 10 seed Cincinnati Lady Dragons to a first-round National Wheelchair Basketball Association Women’s Division Tournament win over No. 7 seed Mary Free Bed in Fort Wayne, Ind. (Photo by John Groth).


Schwab, who was born with spina bifida, later played in the Women’s Division and added a halftime breakaway buzzer-beating layup in the No. 1 seed WASA Marquette Eagles’ 62-29 quarterfinal victory over the No. 9 seed Angel City Sports.

Schwab says Counts had talked to her weeks before to see if she could fill in for him as the Dragons’ coach because he had a work obligation. She said she could — for the first game.

While Schwab knew she’d be coaching beforehand, she only received a two-page-long Google Docs cheat sheet on Thursday. Additionally, she thought they’d have six players, but instead they had eight. It was an interesting, yet fun, experience.

“But that’s the beauty of wheelchair basketball, right? And especially in the women’s game, too. Like, so many people, you build all these relationships. Like Jake could reach out and be like, ‘Hey, this is a cool opportunity for my girls. Like, would you be able to do this?’” Schwab says. “So, yeah, I think it’s just a testament to that, to the relationships that we build in this sport.”

National Wheelchair Basketball Association Women’s Division Wheelchair Basketball National Championship
First Round

No. 5 Lakeshore Lightning 38, No. 12 Ability360 Mercury 12

No. 3 Arizona Storm 68, No. 14 Adaptive Sports Ohio 10

No. 4 LWSRA Lady Hawks 67, No. 13 ParaSport Spokane 8

No. 6 Dallas Lady Mavericks 52, No. 11 PNW Reign 22

No. 10 Cincinnati Lady Dragons 43, No. 7 Mary Free Bed 34

No. 9 Angel City Sports 44, No. 8 Memorial Rehab Lady Sharks 26

Consolation Bracket

No. 11 PNW Reign 21, No. 14 Adaptive Sports Ohio 18

No. 12 Ability360 Mercury 20, No. 13 ParaSport Spokane 12

No. 6 Dallas Lady Mavericks 58, No. 12 Ability360 Mercury 26

No. 5. Lakeshore Lightning 40, No. 11 PNW Reign 31


No. 3 Arizona Storm 71, No. 6 Dallas Lady Mavericks 24

No. 4 LWSRA Lady Hawks 50, No. 5 Lakeshore Lightning 21

No. 1 WASA Marquette Eagles 62, No. 9 Angel City Sports 29

No. 2 Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets 44, No. 10 Cincinnati Lady Dragons 24

Pool Play

Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets 42, Wolfpack Vets 39

Florida Renegades 52, ParaSport Spokane 31

Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets 57, Team PVA 42

ParaSport Spokane 54, LWSRA Hawks 23

Florida Renegades 51, LWSRA Hawks 19

Wolfpack Vets 57, Team PVA 39

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