In 1965 the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center of New Haven founded the New Haven Spokebenders Wheelchair Basketball Team. The team formalized its status one year later and became a member of the (NWBA) National Wheelchair Basketball Association.

 

In the early years there were so few basketball teams in the northeast that a team from Richmond, Virginia was in the same conference as the Connecticut team, necessitating annual road trips to Virginia. Other conference teams included  New Jersey, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. The road trips were sometimes grueling, but the experience proved invaluable for the young team.

 

In 1972 the Spokebenders, along with a team from New Jersey, were invited to Puerto Rico to help the Easter Seal Society there establish a wheelchair basketball program. The trip proved so successful that the teams were invited back in 1973 to continue the initiative.

 

In order to gain wider exposure, and reflect the various home towns of team members, the Spokebenders changed their name to the Connecticut Spokebenders in 1978. In January of 1979, the Spokebenders incorporated as a tax exempt organization under the U.S. Internal Revenue Service code. This milestone proved to be instrumental in allowing the team to raise additional funds and to expand its operations more widely.

History

After struggling in the early years of its existence, the Spokebenders gradually improved and began winning games on a consistent basis during the decade of the 70s. in 1978-79 they advanced to the Eastern Regionals of the NWBA's play-off structure for the first time. In 1980 the Connecticut team won its first conference title, repeating in 1981, 1982, and 1983. In 1982 the Spokebenders had their beast season, finishing second in the Eastern Regionals to the Detroit Sparks, who subsequently became national champions. In addition to conference games, the Spokebenders travel throughout the northeast playing in invitational tournaments. In recent year they have played in Baltimore, Long Island, Philadelphia, NYC, Maine, and Montreal.

 

Over the last decade the Spokebenders have seen a passing of the baton to a new group of ballplayers. Veterans either retired, moved out of state, or passed on, ushering a new generation of players. A great future is in store for this young and promising group of players.

 

Since the early 2000s the Spokebenders have benefited greatly from support provided by the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain. Funds have been provided to help cover the cost of uniforms, travel, wheelchairs, and equipment but the organization is not able to fund the full cost of the Spokebenders 30-35 game season Donations are always welcomed!