UCO Endeavor Games Sitting Volleyball Tournament a "Hit"

June 24, 2009, 5:26 p.m. (ET)

As one of the 11 sport competitions offered, the 2009 UCO Endeavor Games for Athletes with Physical Disabilities held the first annual sitting volleyball tournament at the UCO Wellness Center.

The 2009 Games took place June 11-14, with the sitting volleyball competition taking place on Saturday, June 13.

The tournament allowed athletes of all levels, from able bodied to elite Paralympians, to register as individuals. Organizers hoped the tournament would act to cultivate the sport by acting as an introduction for most of the athletes.

Elliot Blake, tournament coordinator, said that the U.S. Paralympians who participated were divided among all of the teams competing.

"We wanted to make sure that all of the teams were equal so we can have some really competitive matches," said Blake. "We wanted our experienced athletes to teach, train, and mentor the others on their team who have not played the sport before."

UCO is the host Paralympic Training Site for the U.S. Men's and Women's Sitting Volleyball Teams.

"Our athletes that live and train here at UCO know how fun and fast paced sitting volleyball is," said Blake. "The Endeavor Games just gave us a way to spread the sport with people from around the country."

The Games hosted over 350 athletes from 32 states and four other countries.  The sitting volleyball tournament had 40 athletes competing on six teams. Each of the teams was led by one of the U.S. National Team members.

Sitting volleyball was the only sport competition to have able-bodied athletes, having 11 athletes of the 40 total come from two junior club volleyball teams.

The gold medal winning team, led by 2004 U.S. Paralympian Eric Duda, went undefeated to win the round-robin tournament. The team was comprised of four 13-year-old able-bodied players and a coach from Oklahoma Peak Performance, and Travis Ricks of San Diego, an amputee athlete with the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

The Endeavor Games is recognized by U.S. Paralympics, Disabled Sports USA, United States Association of Blind Athletes, USA Track & Field, and Wheelchair Sports USA.

For more information about the UCO Sitting Volleyball Program, contact Elliot Blake, Sitting Volleyball Coordinator, at (405) 974-3153 or mailto: jblake1@uco.edu.