While most people are familiar with adult recreation leagues, these three basketball leagues might be knew to you.
Just a few weeks after graduating from Orem High in 1990, Darrell Mauerman fell asleep at the wheel while driving southbound on I-15 near Draper. The resulting auto accident left Darrell paralyzed from the waist down and hospitalized.
Eventually, Darrell regained a large amount of mobility and strength in his legs. He was able to serve an LDS mission to Los Angeles and to attend college.
What he wasn’t able to do was to get up and down the basketball court like he’d enjoyed before the accident. While he was recuperating in the hospital, he was introduced to Mike Schlappi — a paralympic athlete and world-champion wheelchair basketball player.
Now, Darrell is a member of the Utah Wheelin’ Jazz championship division team. He and the rest of the team — including Mike — travel the country playing the best in wheelchair basketball. Games are played on a full-size court, with 10-foot rims and a standard 3-point line.
“It’s really fun and it’s a way to stay competitive,” Darrell says. “When you get injured or are born with a disability, there are a lot of things you can’t do. With wheelchair basketball, I have something I can do.”
The game keeps Darrell in shape — especially with his shoulders, which get heavy use defending, shooting and rebounding — all while pushing the wheelchair down the court.
Off the court
Darrell Mauerman works at Sierra-West Jewelers in Orem, and he and his wife have three children. Playing with the Utah Wheelin’ Jazz has taken Darrell to Denver, Los Angeles, Arizona and Arkansas.
About the team
The Utah Wheelin’ Jazz is a championship division team in wheelchair basketball. The team competes against players from Orlando, Dallas, Denver and Los Angeles. Utah is typically one of the top 10 teams in the championship division and made it to the league’s semifinals in recent years. If you’re interested in donating to help cover costs, visit wheelinjazz.com.
6 feet (and under) of fun
Brad Warner comes from an athletic family. As navy kids, they traveled around the world and used sports as a way to stay in shape, bond together and make friends. Brad and his brother Chris are 10 months apart and grew up competing on the hardwood.
After playing high school basketball in Reno, Nev., and coming to BYU, Brad wanted to stay in shape and keep playing with friends, so he joined a recreation league. In 2008, one of his friends signed them up for the diminutive (short) division. Now that Brad was at the maximum height for the league, the ball bounced his direction.
“The only reason I’m decent in that league is because I grew up playing the four and I’ve got a big body,” Brad says. “I can post up and cause matchup problems. It’s pretty cool to be the big guy on the floor.”
As might be expected, the league has an up-tempo style with lots of 3-point shooting, driving to the basket and more-than-average trash talking.
Brad still plays in traditional rec leagues where he gets off the block, but he enjoys the pace and sizing he finds in the unique Provo league.
Brad Warner is an IT manager at Vivint in Orem. He’s played basketball all his life, but he discovered a league that was just his size five years ago when a friend started a team in Provo’s six-foot-and-under league. Brad is 6-feet tall, which makes him the “big man” in a league full of guards.
About the league
Provo Parks & Recreation hosts a league for players 6-feet and under. Games are on Thursday nights (for the 2013-2014 season) and are played at local junior highs and high schools. Teams play a tournament following the regular season. Visit provo.org for more information.
Jason Cheney spent his youth playing in the most competitive and intense soccer leagues he could find. So in junior high, he took a more relaxed attitude when he started playing a lot of basketball.
“I just had a lot of fun playing basketball,” he says. “I was more competitive in soccer, but I enjoyed playing basketball more. It was a good break from soccer.”
Now, Jason still uses basketball as a healthy distraction from the rigors of his job. He and some of his co-workers represent their company in the Corporate Athletic Association (CAA) — a Utah County league that allows businesses to compete against each other in friendly competition.
“In business, you always want to represent yourself and your company in the best possible way,” Jason says. “That includes on the basketball floor. We want to play well and win.”
Jason says the competition in the CAA is better than the rec leagues he has competed in with co-workers in the past.
“A lot of the better players won’t play in rec leagues,” Jason says. “But they’ll play if they feel they’re doing something that helps the company.”
The teams play a regular season and then hold a post-season tournament. In addition to bragging rights, the winning team gets a billboard along I-15 — a slam dunk in the marketing world.
Jason Cheney grew up in Lehi and lives in American Fork. He’s a sales engineer and consultant for a local software company and has played in the basketball and soccer leagues sponsored by the Corporate Athletic Association (CAA).
About the league
The Corporate Athletic Association (CAA) organizes leagues specifically designed to allow businesses to compete against other businesses in friendly competition. Currently, the Utah Valley-based association sponsors leagues for soccer and basketball. Visit corporateathleticassociation.com for information.