Wheelchair soccer teams meet in Menomonie for 9th annual Shamrock Showdown

Published: Mar. 18, 2023 at 6:15 PM CDT
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MENOMONIE, Wis. (WEAU) - In the gymnasium of Menomonie Middle School you will find para athletes like Brett Boettcher competing in the 9th annual Shamrock Showdown tournament.

“It’s a unique and fun experience for me to play a sport. And I’m such a competitive person. Finding this has just given me so much joy,” said Boettcher.

He plays for the Chippewa Valley Hooligans, competing against other Midwestern teams in the tournament.

What makes it exciting is getting to watch the skill required to maneuver the specially designed wheelchairs, hitting the ball from one end of the court to the other.

“Just like with any sport, practice will eventually make you better,” said Boettcher.

The teams are part of the U.S. Power Soccer Association.

“Every month we basically go to a tournament somewhere. Whether its Minnesota, Chicago, St. Louis,” said Bob White.

He has a daughter who plays for the Chippewa Valley Hooligans, and said it all the matches played come down to the big conference cup at Fort Wayne, Indiana in June. Each team is required to meet a minimum amount of wins to qualify.

“And it’s just a phenomenal experience to see that many athletes of different abilities,” said White.

“I also love going there because I get to compete a lot more harder. There’s a lot of tough competition there,” said Boettcher.

From the small games to the big showdowns, Boettcher said what he enjoys the most is the community that comes with the experience.

“It’s a pretty tight knit group, but with the power soccer community, it’s always fun to have tournaments and see old friends,” said Boettcher.

There are six players on the Chippewa Valley Hooligans team, and association rules say there has to be at least four members on the court in any given game.

The team is always looking for new talent.

“I would suggest they join and give it a try,” said Boettcher.

The same goes for anyone wanting to volunteer their time to take on the role of referee or linesmen.

Each year the Chippewa Valley Hooligans honors two of their members who passed away. Cullen Connolley is one of them and the team said he is the one who started the whole thing, from helping form the team to putting together the tournament.

For more information on the US Power Soccer Association, click here.