Three time basketball tournament winner, Jonathan Elliston, beat the best team in the nation during his last tournament, and he did it while sitting down.
Elliston uses a wheelchair to get around Timber Creek high school, and uses a different one for him to play wheelchair basketball for the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.
For sophomore, Jonathan Elliston, the sport is all about, “just being in the moment, being ready to go, there’s no stopping, there’s no quitting.”
He has been in a wheelchair since about the age of five years old, due to his bone disease that soften his bones and make them more fragile to the point where they can break easily.
Elliston previously attended Germantown high school as a freshman, and recently moved and now attends Timber Creek, where he got involved in the NWBA.
“I started playing wheelchair basketball when I was eight years old when I lived in Tennessee, there was a team called the Music City Thunder and I joined that to start, and then we moved to Mississippi there was nothing, so my dad and I, we started a team in Mississippi and that became our team for three years and we just moved here and I joined this team that has already been established,” said Elliston.
The NWBA currently practices at University of Texas at Arlington, since Ellistons’ teams gym has become unusable. Their efforts at practice mirror how they perform in tournaments. Furthermore, he has competed in countless tournaments since he was eight years old.
“It’s great whenever we win a tournament because it’s just like, wow we’re really doing good. Let’s keep going, let’s go to the next one, kick it out of the park and move on,” said Elliston.
Not only do they practice in order to perform their best efforts, they develop a bond within their team. Elliston considers everyone he’s ever been on a team with, family. For him, it’s easy to joke around with his teammates, but also being loyal to the point of doing anything the other team member needs.
“I like just putting my full trust in my teammates and them putting full trust in me and working as a team, that would probably be my favorite part of the game,” said Elliston.
The rules of wheelchair basketball don’t differ much from basketball, the only difference is a player gets two pushes and then they’re forced to dribble or it would be considered a travel. If a player is pushing and they crash into someone without trying to stop, that’s a charge or a defensive block. As well as if someone is coming behind a player, they aren’t allowed to back into them. Free throws are the same, as if a player is going up to shoot and their arm is hit, they then shoot free throws.
“I hope I can get to the point where I can go to the Paralympics, which for those who don’t know is wheelchair olympics. My goal is just to be involved in anyway I can,” said Elliston, “I really do think and hope I’ll be playing this sport for the rest of my life.”
The team to which Elliston plays for is a co-ed team, a team with both guys and girls, consisting of eight players. During games they have five players out on the court at a time and three sub in. Elliston considers some of the top three college recruits to be within his team.
“For those who are unfamiliar with wheelchair basketball, they need to come out and watch, it’s a lot more intense than they would think,” said Elliston, “We’re out there going, we’re really trying to earn our way to the top, we’re trying to get college scholarships, we’re trying to be the best that we can possibly be, there’s no quit, and we will go hard and won’t stop until that timer hits zero.”