WheelCats to play local teams

The WheelCats team will be playing members of the West Point Fire Department, the West Point Police Department, West Point School Staff, NMMC West Point Staff and West Point Basketball teams in exhibition games.
Staff Writer

The Mississippi WheelCats will be playing local teams in exhibition basketball at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 21, at the West Point High School gymnasium. The opposing teams from the West Point Fire Department, the West Point Police Department, West Point School Staff, NMMC West Point Staff and West Point Basketball teams will also be playing in wheelchairs.

The event is free and open to the public. Passionate Pursuit is donating the concessions. Donations will be accepted.

Phillip Lindsey has been playing for the WheelCats for a year. His goal in life is to play basketball in the Paralympic games.

Lindsey had begun playing baseball with the other kids in his wheelchair. According to his mother, Lindsay Lindsey, baseball had become too competitive to play in a wheelchair.

"He met Nash Bennett from Fulton who invited him to a basketball game," Lindsay Lindsey said. "He had no idea it was the WheelCats and everyone was in a wheelchair."

Phillip Lindsey was excited at the prospect of playing on a team of people just like himself.

"This was a year for firsts," Lindsay Lindsey said. "It was the first time he played an all wheelchair sport. At first he had a hard time making the basket, but he made his first shot."

The team is based out of Clinton, on the Mississippi College campus. The team travels for tournaments in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky and North Carolina.

"We are a young team this year," Dwight Lindsey, Phillip's dad, said. "Most of the players are 15 and under. We lost two seniors last year. A graduating senior received a scholarship to play wheelchair basketball for South West Minnesota State. We would love to see wheelchair basketball at Ole Miss and Mississippi State."

Phillip Lindsey enjoys playing a sport he excels at and is looking forward to the game Saturday.

"Adults think they've got this," Phillip Lindsey said. "They will have a chance to try out the chairs, but it's harder than it looks for someone who doesn't use a wheelchair. They don't stand a chance. It is so much fun to watch."

Dwight Lindsey said during exhibition games like the one to be played Saturday, there is usually a 20 point difference.

"We love doing this, it raises awareness," Lindsay Lindsey said. "And sometimes it allows us to recruit new players. Phillip knows no limits. He tries to do everything and pushes himself."

The WheelCats are a co-ed team. Young women are allowed to play alongside the young men.

"The girls who play are really good," Phillip Lindsey said. "I don't mind having girls on the team when they play as well or better than the guys."

Phillip Lindsey received the SEC Tournament Hustle Award, and was named Rookie of the Year by his team.

He has Caudal Regression Syndrome, he is one of only five people in the state, according to Lindsay Lindsey. It is a very rare condition. He can walk with the use of crutches.

"I am a lot faster in my wheelchair," Phillip Lindsey said.

The past year has been encouraging for he Lindsey family.

"It was wonderful when he first saw a group of other kids like him," Lindsay Lindsey said. "It has been a blessing to find a sport he excels at, and loves to play."