This story was originally published in Newsday on April 11, 2000
After two years of dodging broken glass and contending with potholes and oncoming traffic, the EPVA Mets Wheelchair Softball Team now is practicing in style.
The city Parks Department recently dedicated a new asphalt "field" designed for wheelchair softball where the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association Mets will make a permanent home. Bulova Park in Jackson Heights now offers disabled athletes of all ages a chance to enjoy the camaraderie that able-bodied athletes might take for granted.
"For younger disabled athletes this is especially important. Able-bodied youngsters don't think about what it means to be on a team - the friendships, the camaraderie," said organizer Victor Calise, 28, who has been in a wheelchair for six years after breaking his back while downhill mountain bike riding.
Calise remembers the burden of having to research to find a sport he could do after his accident. But he found out that not only could he play softball, but hockey and quad rugby, and he could sled, downhill ski, throw a discus and shotput and practice archery.
"The question is, what can't you do?" he said.
With the new softball field, he hopes kids will see that.