CLEVELAND - This time two years from now, Evan Heller will be playing wheelchair basketball at college on a scholarship.
“It’s all he thinks about,” said Evan’s father, Scott Heller. “It’s all he wants to do.”
It’s a rapid rise for the Wooster High School senior, considering Evan only picked up the sport four years ago.
“It’s definitely changed my life,” Evan said.
The real life-changing moment came the first time Evan experienced a wheelchair basketball camp at Edinboro College, in which he found out for the first time that some universities give scholarships for wheelchair hoops.
“I was completely surprised,” said Scott Heller. “I had no idea it was even an option.”
Now, it’s Evan’s focus.
“You can just learn and, while you’re learning, play the sport that you love,” said Evan.
Heller is just one of several players on the Achievement Centers for Children’s Junior Cavaliers team with collegiate basketball aspirations.
“Their livelihood is on the line for some of our kids,” said Junior Cavaliers coach Brian Driscoll. “They can get a full ride and get an education, which is huge.”
Yet, the Junior Cavaliers’ future is in jeopardy.
Even as one of the top youth wheelchair basketball teams in the country, the Cavs are struggling with the numbers necessary to remain a consistent power.
“We’ve got eight players, and in a couple years, we’re going to lose three,” said Driscoll. “So it’s huge for us to get as many kids out here as possible.”
The elder Heller can vouch for the program.
“You never know, that next Evan is probably out there,” said Scott Heller. “They just need be given the opportunity to realize this program exists.”