People and Places – April 2009

The Minnesota Jr. Rolling Timberwolves and the Rolling Rowdies, two wheelchair basketball teams from Courage Center, won national titles in […]

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The Minnesota Jr. Rolling Timberwolves and the Rolling Rowdies, two wheelchair basketball teams from Courage Center, won national titles in March at the National Wheelchair Basketball Championships. The tournament was held in Lakewood, Colorado and featured more than 1,000 athletes playing in six divisions.

The Rolling Timberwolves team won its second straight national title in the varsity division. The Minnesotans defeated the San Diego Hammer, 51-50, in the division finals.

The Rolling Rowdies won the national prep division by defeating Sterling Heights, Illinois, 27-26 in the championship game. This division is for athletes age 6-12.

The Rolling Timberwolves team entered the varsity tournament as the team to beat, with a number one ranking. The team was led by tri-captains Chuck Aoki, Minneapolis South High School; Connor Downes, Rosemount High School and Ben Kenyon, Minnetonka High School. All three are standout athletes and have previously won Academic All-American honors.

“I could not be prouder of our Courage Center wheelchair basketball teams. To win one national championship is amazing, but to come home with two championship teams is unimaginable,” said coach Mike Bauler of the Rolling Timberwolves. “I am happy for the seniors on the Rolling Timberwolves. They deserve everything that has happened to them. Winning back-to-back championships is evidence of the time they put in every day to be their best.”

Aoki was recently accepted at the University of Arizona. He also has been named to the Wheelchair Rugby National Team. He was offered many academic and athletic scholarships before making his school choice.

Kenyon also competes in swimming, and track and field. Nationally, he is a top-ranked wheelchair basketball player and recently played in Beijing at the Paralympic Academy. Kenyon was the Rolling Timberwolves Most Valuable Player in 2008.

Downes is one of the big men in wheelchair basketball in the United States. He is also a high school senior. Downes’ dedication to the team was shown when his family moved to Texas in 2007. He chose to stay in Minnesota and compete with his Courage Center teammates.

At the national tournament, Downes was named player of the game in the championship. Kenyon was named MVP. Downes and Aoki were named the all-tournament second team.

The three captains were to be honored April 9, after this issue of Access Press went to press, at a college signing ceremony at Courage Center. Aoki, Downes and Kenyon have been heavily recruited by national wheelchair basketball college teams.

Other team members include Derrick Bisnett, Bismark, N.D., a student at Century High School; Lucas Braun, Mounds View, a freshman at Irondale High School; Mark Braun, Mounds View, a freshman at Irondale High School; Rose Hollerman, Elysian, a seventh grader at Elysian Middle School; Guthrie Lindquist, Lake City, a freshman at Lincoln High School; Josh Scanlan, Delano, a sophomore at Watertown-Mayer High School; and Robbie Wilhelm, New Brighton, a junior at Irondale High School.

The Rolling Rowdies team also includes Hollerman as a member. She was named MVP female in the prep division. Other team members include Kyle Anderson, New Prague, a fifth grader at New Prague; Josie Aslakson, Jordan, a seventh grader at Jordan Middle School; Abby Donkers, Faribault, a sixth grader at Kenyon-Wanamingo Middle School; Collin Evans, Mondovi, Wisc., a fifth grade at Mondovi Public School; Jayson Gorton, Montrose, a fourth grader at Montrose Elementary School; Emilee Gustafson, Howard Lake, a second grader; Elizabeth Kimmes, Hastings, a sixth grader at Hastings Middle School; Dan Kosanda, Maple Grove, a sixth grader at Fern-brook Elementary School; Jon-athan Laing, Lakeville, a fifth grader at Cherry View Elementary School; Erik Marschel, Maplewood, a tenth grader at North St. Paul High School; Janet Scanlon, Wayzata, a fifth grader; JoLynn Super, Blaine, a seventh grader at Westwood Middle School; Shane Swan-son, Bloomington, a second grader at Westwood Elementary School; and Zsolt Vincze, Lauderdale, a fifth grader. (School information was not available for all team members.)

The Rolling Rowdies team is coached by Jeff Gustafson, a Courage Center volunteer, and wheelchair basketball athlete.


Dakota United Hawks and Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound Westonka Robins are the 2009 Minnesota State High School League champions in adapted floor hockey. The state tournament was held March 20-21 at Bloomington Jefferson High School.

Dakota United won the CI title, which is for athletes with cognitive impairments. Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound Weston-ka is the PI champion, which is for athletes with physical impairments. The Hawks’ last state title was won in 2006, while the Robins won their sixth title since 1994. Teams are co-ed.

In the PI division, the Robins defeated Minneapolis South Tigers, Brainerd/Pillager Warriors and then Dakota United Hawks in the championship game. The Robins won the state title on a score of 8-2.

The Robins were the team to beat this year as they outscored opponents during the regular season 119-20. Senior Jesse Klein, who scored 29 goals and 27 assists during the regular season, is the program’s all-time leader in assists and total goals.

The Anoka-Hennepin Mustangs team was the defending champion and finished third this year, defeating Brainerd/Pillager. The tournament featured an eight-team field. Other teams playing were Rochester Area Raiders, Wayzata/Min-netonka Lakers and South Suburban Flyers.

Dakota United defeated defending state champion Maple Grove Crimson, 6-1, for the 2009 CI title. The Hawks stopped Mounds View/Iron-dale/Roseville Rams and Anoka-Hennepin Mustangs in the first two rounds of play.

South Suburban Jets defeated Anoka-Hennepin for third place. Other teams in the CI tournament were Owatonna Huskies, Burnsville/Farming-ton/Lakeville Blazing Cats and Wayzata/Minnetonka Lakers and the South Suburban Jets.

In adapted floor hockey, each team has six players on the floor at a time. A center can move the full length of the floor, while forwards, defensive players and goalies are restricted. In the PI division, each team must field at least two wheelchair players. A game consists of three 15-minute periods. Rules do allow for overtime play.

In adaptive hockey, the puck may be moved the best way for each participant, be it with a stick or feet. Intentional trapping of the puck beneath a wheelchair is prohibited. Running is also prohibited.

Adaptive hockey is one of four sports the MSHSL offers for athletes with disabilities. Youth teams play adapted soccer every fall, with adapted bowling and softball every spring.


A special education teacher from Proctor is one of the 11 finalists for Minnesota Teacher of the Year honors. The award is presented annually by Education Minnesota, the state teachers union.

The 11 were chosen out of 101 candidates. The winner will be announced May 3 at an awards banquet.

Mary Ellen Wade is a special education teacher at A.I. Jedlicka Middle School in Proctor.


People with disabilities are four times more likely to experience abuse and violence than people without disabilities. A new book, Combating Violence and Abuse of People with Disabilities: A Call to Action, explores these difficult issues and offers advice.

The book is by Nancy M. Fitzsimons, MSW, PhD. She is Master’s of Social Work Program director and associate professor in the Department of Social Work at Minnesota State University, Mankato. She has an extensive background in teaching, social work and investigative work.

The book is very timely because of the number of cases of financial exploitation and physical abuse which have been in the news lately. It is published by Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company, a Baltimore-based firm.

The book is designed to help self-advocates, professionals and family members to stop abuse before it starts and to empower persons with disabilities. Fitzsimons gives advice on how to learn ways to defend themselves against abuse and violence and to identify situations that might make a person more vulnerable to violence or abuse. The book also describes how to recognize the indicators of various forms of abuse and exploitation, and how to take action.

One helpful feature of the book is an appendix that allows self-advocates to compile their own information on his or her own safety resources network. The book also contains exercises that would be helpful to a wide range of readers.

The book is 248 pages long and costs $35. For more information contact


From Spain to Georgia, France to Minnesota,  Ron Lykins has traveled the world coaching and training wheelchair basketball teams. Now, after 29 years of experience, Lykins is proud to call Mizzou his new home and the Tiger Wheelchair Basketball Team (TWB) his new team. Lykins was named the new coach of TWB recently.

“I couldn’t think of anywhere better to coach than Mizzou,” said Lykins. “It has great academics, sports, cultural activities and fantastic facilities. This position was very appealing not just to me, but to lots of people.”

A former coach of the USA Women’s Paralympic Wheelchair Basketball Team, Lykins has led his teams to win gold medals at both the 2004 and 2008 Paralympic Games. In 2007, Lykins’ team won the gold medal at the Para Pan-American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where Mizzou TWB player John Gilbert competed on the men’s team.

Lykins received his bachelor’s degree in community recreation and his master’s degree in education from the University of Kentucky, where he began his coaching career as a volunteer coach for the university’s wheelchair basketball team. After college, he spent nearly 10 years as the head coach of the wheelchair basketball team at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

“The Tiger Wheelchair Basketball program has grown considerably over the past five years,” said Diane Dahlmann, director of Mizzou Recreation Services and Facilities. “The addition of Ron Lykins will allow the program to evolve and flourish. These are exciting times for our athletes and this important program.”


It’s a federal first—Kareem Dale has been named as Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy. The appointment was announced by Vice President Biden while he was leading a presidential delegation at the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Boise, Idaho.

“The commitment that the president and I have to Special Olympics and people with disabilities is deep and abiding. And we are backing up those words with real action at the White House,” said Biden. “This is our first step to ensure that we have a strong advocate for people with disabilities at the highest levels of our administration.”

Dale, who is partially blind, will have direct access to the president in this role and he will coordinate the admin-istration’s efforts to ensure that people with disabilities are on a level playing field with all Americans.

Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Dale previously served as the National Disability Director for the Obama for America campaign. He also served on the Arts Policy Committee and the Disability Policy Committee for then—Senator Obama. Dale graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor’s degree in Advertising in May 1995. He received his JD/MBA in May 1999 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, graduating Cum Laude. While attending law school, Dale was also active in community service.


Seven Minnesota artists have been awarded VSA arts of Minnesota Career Advancement Grants. This is the 13th year for the competitive grants, which are funded by the Jerome Foundation. The grants honor excellence by Minnesota artists with disabilities. The winners were chosen from a field of 54 applicants. They are: Laurel Cazin, St. Paul, visual arts—photography; Deb Costandine, St. Paul, visual arts—ceramics, sculpture; Nancy Donoval, Minneapolis, performance—storytelling; Delia Jurek, Center City, visual arts—printmaking; Amy Mattson, Buffalo, visual arts—video; Roald Molberg, Duluth, visual arts—pottery and Nicole Zapko, Bloomington, performance—theater/mime.

The grants were awarded by a 10-member panel, whose members have extensive backgrounds in written, visual and performing arts. The grants are $1,250 per award.

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