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In Memoriam: Phyllis Palma

Amy Bohn, Head of Classification, USQRA

Phyllis Palma, Head of Classification for the USQRA passed away, suddenly, on September 19, 2019. Please join us in remembering her as an individual that gave so much for our sport and our athletes. Amy Bohn, the current Co-Head of Classification has written a piece in her memory:

Phyllis had a light that shined brightly and a relentless spirit that touched many people around the world.  Her friends, professional colleagues, patients, and wheelchair rugby family remembered her as a loyal and loving friend, leader, motivator who influenced other to pursue their dreams and most importantly a person who taught us all to live life to the fullest with energy, passion, and a smile.  Phyllis always enjoyed speaking to everyone, unselfishly educated those around her, and often knew what someone needed before they did and quickly jumped in to help.
Phyllis had an initial start in the hospitality industry, working her way up from server at the Hemingway Restaurant inside the “Mothership” Bass Pro Shop in Springfield Missouri, near where she grew up and attended high school, to achieving a restaurant managerial position in Charleston, South Carolina. Phyllis lightheartedly said this time in the food service industry was invaluable for her professional pursuits in physical therapy and in rugby classification as it prepared her well for patient care and for delivering sport class decisions to athletes and coaches, particularly when the decisions that were not so well liked. 

Phyllis left the hospitality industry and made a move to Atlanta Georgia to pursue her true professional calling in Physical Therapy.   Phyllis caught the wheelchair rugby bug early in her professional pursuits and got her start in the sport as a volunteer with the Shepherd Smash in 2004.  She continued as a member of the support staff until 2013.  Phyllis was full of energy and up for any tasks, no matter what the time was.  
During her time as a volunteer, Phyllis became interested in classification. After finishing her first physical therapy degree in 2006, she began an enthusiastic love affair with wheelchair rugby classification.  Phyllis achieved the highest level of classifier certification, USQRA Level 4 and was serving her third term as the Head of Classification for the USQRA at the time of her death. She was instrumental in professionalizing and standardizing the policies and procedures in classification, classifier training and development, and continuing competency for classifiers. Phyllis also made a major contribution to the revision and updating of the USQRA Classification Manual Rules and Regulations, 4th edition that was put in place in the 2017-2018 season.

 In 2012, Phyllis was put forward and was supported by the USQRA for training as an international classifier.  Because of her extensive experience in the USQRA, she advanced quickly in international classification. Phyllis attended many international tournaments. At the 2017 Toronto Para Pan Am Games, she was promoted to the highest certification level internationally, IWRF Level 4 Classifier. In 2018, she was selected to the IWRF World Championships in Sydney Australia.  In 2019 alone, she served on international classification panels in the 2019 IWRF European Division A Championships in Denmark and the 2019 IWRF Asia Oceania Championships in South Korea.  She was active in revision and updating of the IWRF Classification Rules, to be put in place post-Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and was part of the working group writing the new IWRF Classifier Handbook to accompany the 2020 IWRF Classification Rules.  Following the 2019 Para Pan Am Games in Lima, she was appointed to take on the position of Head Classifier for the Americas Zone.

Phyllis was selected for the 2019 IWRF Division Championships in October in Spain, where she would have a major teaching role for classifiers in countries who were starting their process of developing teams and classification programs.  She was so excited to have an expanded teaching role to help develop the next generation of classifiers around the world.   The team in Spain shared many memories and had a picture on the table of Phyllis to remember her.

Phyllis demonstrated an unselfish dedication to this sport from her beginnings in 2004 to her untimely death in September 2019.  She enhanced the development of professionalization of wheelchair rugby classification from her first appearance on the classification scene in 2006 and through her advancement as a national and international classifier.

Phyllis’s experiences took her around the world where she helped progress classification in the sport of rugby and touched many lives.  Condolences for the loss of our Phyllis were received from all over the world. One of the best was from a USQRA athlete who had been classified by Phyllis and her team. He remarked, “she made classification fun, and that’s saying something!”

To the classifiers of the USQRA and the rugby family, she is irreplaceable. Our hearts are broken beyond repair. And as such, we will celebrate and honor her invincible spirit.  For this season and future season, tell stories to remember her, smile, show kindness, make a toast, and share a laugh – that is what she would have wanted.

Team Residency Transfers 


Allen Frye Ohio Buckeye Blitz South Florida Rattlers
Andy Burton TEAM RISE - Dallas DFW Rangers
Austin Cogar  University of Arizona Wildcats Vegas High Rollers
Ben Goss Phoenix Ability360 Heat Northeast Passage Wildcats
Benjamin Andersen TEAM RISE - Dallas DFW Rangers
Bill Lytton Kansas City Revolution Oscar Mike
Brandon Baldwin TEAM RISE - Dallas DFW Rangers
Chris Hull Oscar Mike WWAR
Christian Garcia TEAM RISE - Dallas DFW Rangers
Cody Kingsland Brooks Bandits WWAR
Dave Nicholls Northridge Knights Vegas High Rollers
Jarrett Dreyer Philadelphia Magee Eagles  EWAF New York Warriors
John Adamiec Raleigh Sidewinders Oscar Mike
Josh McFadden Akron Rhinos Pittsburgh Steelwheelers
Josh Whitaker TEAM RISE - Dallas DFW Rangers
Justin Ferguson TEAM RISE - Dallas DFW Rangers
Kaleb Wilson Denver Harlequins Oscar Mike
Kory Puderbaugh Phoenix Ability360 Heat Boise Bombers
Leonardo Biscaia EWAF New York Warriors Maryland Mayhem
Levi Bohan High Fives Storm Phoenix Ability360 Heat
Mason Symons Oscar Mike Texas Stampede
Michael Anthony  TEAM RISE - Dallas DFW Rangers
Michael Monthervil Tampa Generals WWAR
Ryan Kress Tampa Generals WWAR
Ryan Major Maryland Mayhem Oscar Mike
Scrap Smitty  San Diego Sharp  Oscar Mike
Seth Thomas Minnesota Wheelchair Rugby Club Oscar Mike
Shawn Vogelgesang Ohio Buckeye Blitz Grand Rapids Thunder
Shelby Keeland TEAM RISE - Dallas DFW Rangers
Steve Servis Tampa Generals WWAR
Sua Tua Oscar Mike WWAR
Todd Collier Maryland Mayhem Tampa Generals
Zack Porio Connecticut Jammers Tampa Generals

Residency Exception Transfers 


Brad Hudspeth Kansas City Revolution Denver Harlequins
Daniel Pitaluga Ohio Buckeye Blitz Tampa Generals
James Adams Shepherd Smash Tampa Generals
James Sa San Diego Sharp  Texas Stampede
Jeff Odom San Diego Sharp  Kansas City Revolution
Jorge Hernandez Northridge Knights Vegas High Rollers
Lee Mercado  Northridge Knights Phoenix Ability360 Heat
Liz Dunn Pittsburgh Steelwheelers Texas Stampede
Matt Milstead Grand Rapids Thunder Tampa Generals
Nick Pearce Denver Harlequins Boise Bombers
Nick Springer Phoenix Ability360 Heat Philadelphia Magee Eagles 
Travis Baker Ohio Buckeye Blitz University of Arizona Wildcats

Commissioner's Corner

Dave Mengyan, Commissioner, USQRA

Welcome back!  The season is already in full swing with multiple tournaments occurring almost every weekend.   Here are some questions that have come up repeatedly so let’s get them answered:

  1. SINGLE REAR CASTER:  Internationally, the single rear caster is illegal.  While we haven’t adopted this change in the US, it is likely we will.  Those chairs are technically illegal in the USQRA today, however no new chairs should be built with a single rear caster and if you have the opportunity to replace such a chair, you should.  
  2. BALL HOLDERS:  The referees have clarified the interpretation of the existing ball holder rule.  It is not a change in the rule itself, just simplifying and unifying the enforcement of it.  Starting in THIS year’s post season tournaments (2020), all ball holders must comply with this, more detailed interpretation.  If you have any doubt, please ask during chair checks whether your ball holder is in compliance.  
  3. POST SEASON:  The newest rule change related to post season requires us to provide more lead time between selecting teams for post season and planning your trip.  Because most of the 2020 Nationals dates available at our host’s facility are also in conflict with Team USA’s preparation for Tokyo, the only date we can use is the last weekend in March (again).  We’re still trying to confirm a host for one semi-final, but the other will be hosted by Portland the last weekend (26th) of February.  Combined, these facts mean that selections will occur earlier this season than ever before (end of Jan).  Tournaments played after the post season selection DO count toward the team hosting requirement, however they WILL NOT count toward post season individual player eligibility.
  4.  DEC 1:  Tournaments that occur the weekend of Dec 1 will count toward the first half of the season for individual player post season eligibility.

Rugby Nutrition Tips

Lucy Beauchamp, Guest Contributor

Best nutrition for wheelchair rugby players

Wheelchair rugby is a highly physically demanding sport. You need very good levels of core and upper body strength as well as cardiovascular fitness, particularly when it comes to all the quick bursts across the court. Nutrition plays a pivotal role to keep your energy up throughout a match as well as maintaining a high level of performance.

Meeting energy demands

Knowing what to eat before and after training and fuelling yourself with the right foods each time is an essential component of match strength and fitness. It will make a huge difference to your performance and how much you are able to get out of training. Due to many wheelchair rugby players’ size given upper body strength requirements, as well as the physical nature of the sport, the energy demands are great, meaning that carbohydrate and fluid intake are paramount.

Fuelling with carbs pre-match

Fuelling with energy giving carbohydrates pre match is essential. For any pre match meal, carbohydrates should be the largest component of the meal, followed by fats then protein. Make sure that you consume complex carbs that release energy over a long time period such as fruits, vegetables, wholegrain rice, pasta, bread, quinoa, sweet potatoes and porridge. 

Fats also play a crucial role in maintaining energy levels and athletic performance, you should be getting 20% of your total calories from fats. Your pre match meal should contain healthy sources of fats such as oily fish, avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds.

Fuelling mid training 

For quick bursts of energy during training, to keep your energy up and to replace lost electrolytes through sweat, you can get this from a sports drink or gel, bananas or coconut water, as well as ensuring that you stay hydrated. But slow release energy carbs are best for overall health and pre training meals.

The role of protein

Protein intake is essential for building upper body muscle and strength preseason as well as muscle growth and repair after training. Some people chose to follow a diet plan for their protein needs, the main choice is often between the keto vs. Atkins diets, which restrict carb intake and maximise protein intake. This is a good idea for someone who is looking to loose body fat but build muscle mass, and the diets would be best followed towards the end of the off season if you are looking to get into shape and build upper body strength before preseason training begins.

Quality sources of protein

After training, protein should be the largest component of your meal, carbs will be important too in order to combat tiredness and keep your energy levels up. Some healthy sources of animal protein include eggs, cheese, turkey, chicken, ground beef, salmon and tuna. High protein vegan sources include edamame, beans and pulses, hummus, tempeh, tofu, peanut butter, nuts and seeds. 

The key is to ensure that you have a balanced plate with healthy sources of the three main macronutrients that the body needs: protein, carbs and fats. For pre training, the balance should be tipped in favour of carbs and post training in the favour of protein. Following these nutritional guidelines will help you build muscle, perform at your best, keep you energised throughout training and help with recovery.

Use the USQRA discount code "USQRA" for 10% off your order! - The USQRA gets a percentage of sales to help support programming and teams within the league!

Phoenix Instinct travel and daily bags allow easy, safe and Independent use by wheelchair users. Connect in seconds and your Phoenix bag will move perfectly with you in every direction, even up and down curbs. Compatible with all manual wheelchairs and many power chairs too. The Compact bag and Twinset with backpack can be connected in multiple combinations so there is always the right solution available.

We also thank Permobil FoundationMelrose WheelchairsABC MedicalLone Star Paralysis Foundation and Fusion Medical for their continued support of the USQRA


Need Referees? Contact your Referee RACs - 
RACs are as follows:
Pacific - Kelli Kaliszewski 
Mountain - Andy Miller
Heartland - Kristin Little 
Atlantic North - Bob Lopez 
Atlantic South - Matt Smith


Interested in hosting a clinic? For more information on how to host a player, referee or classifier clinic please contact the 1st Vice President.


Classification Information - Want to host a classification panel? Want to protest a classification?

Please email Head of Classification

USQRA Board of Directors

About the USQRA 

The United States Quad Rugby Association is a 501(c)3 nonprofit which provides oversight, development and administration to the sport of wheelchair rugby across the United States. Since 1988 the USQRA has been promoting and supporting wheelchair rugby to provide competitive athletic opportunities to eligible people with disabilities and also to empower people to reach their full potential in all areas of life. The USQRA features 45 teams with more than 500 athletes across the country. For more information, please visit our website.
Donate to the USQRA
Copyright © 2019 United States Quad Rugby Association, All rights reserved.

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