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Posted on: February 23, 2018

Coon Rapids High School Gym Class 'On a Roll'

A Coon Rapids High School gym class was on a roll this week. Students who are used to running and jumping around the basketball court on their feet, tried to play the sport from a wheelchair.

While the students practiced new skills, the true lesson of the day was much more meaningful.

“It's really different,” said Quincy Taylor, an eleventh grade student at Coon Rapids High School.

Taylor is a two-sport athlete at Coon Rapids. He may be used to training drills, but when he sat down, his perspective opened up.

“[I] really just found a new-found respect,” he said of athletes who play in a wheelchair.

The wheelchair class was led by Mark Braun. He was asked to visit the class as a guest teacher. Braun is a decorated wheelchair athlete who won four national championship titles with the Courage Kenny Wheelchair Basketball team and earned an Olympic gold medal with Team USA in the under 20 division.

“Our wheels are their legs,” said Braun. “I hope that they can take away from this that just because we're in a wheelchair, doesn't mean that we're not able to do the exact same thing.”

Physical education teacher and strength training coach, Tom Bruggers invited Braun. The move was inspired by another athlete in the class, Mohammed Sahel.

Sahel has been in a wheelchair since birth. The senior plays on adapted teams at Coon Rapids High School.

Wednesday's class was a chance for all of the students to truly see Sahel eye-to-eye.

“They get to see how it is in my view,” he explained. “If you're in a wheelchair or whatever the case may be... You're equal.”

About 30 able-bodied students got the chance to try wheelchair basketball. The chairs were donated to the class from the Anoka American Legion.

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