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Commentary: Start-up idea needs input

It was early last spring when the realities of life in a wheelchair knocked 14-year-old Shane Gippner for a loop.

Sign-ups for his school’s basketball team were under way, and a bunch of his buddies put their signatures on the dotted line.

Gippner, who’s been in a wheelchair for most of his life, wanted more than anything to join them on the court.



He had the coach’s blessing, but league officials benched Gippner’s hoops career before it began.

Their rationale was, a wheelchair on the court could pose a serious risk of injury to him as well as the rest of the players.




“Shane has been in a wheelchair for years and years, but for some reason that hit him really hard. I saw his pain, and as his mother, I felt it too,” Shane’s mom, Debi Gippner, said.

So she did something about it.

If her pride and joy couldn’t play in that league, she would make it her mission to develop a youth sports program designed exclusively for wheelchair athletes.

Basketball would be tops on her list. After that, she’d be open to anything under the sun.

Here’s where you come in.

Debi, along with members of the Nevada County Wheelchair Sports Association, is looking to the community for input regarding demand for a youth program.

“We’re at the beginning stages right now, so all we have at this point are ideas. I don’t know how many wheelchair athletes are out there and if there would be a demand for a youth program. So I need parents of disabled children to tell us what they want and what their children could benefit from (most),” Debi said.

While the league would be designed for the disabled, she said anyone would be welcome.

“Shane has been hanging out with the guys from the NCWSA for a couple of years now, and he’s really enjoyed it. Before the season was over, Shane had a waiting list of friends who wanted to come out and play. Most, if not all, would love it if there was a basketball league they could be a part of,” Gippner said.

Shane loved the idea.

“This is a great way to compete with my friends without getting my butt kicked so bad all of the time,” he said, laughing.

Debi’s dream is still in the planning stages, but the Sacramento Kings organization thinks she’s onto something.

It donated an autographed 8×10 picture of star player Bobby Jackson to be a raffle prize in the fledgling organization’s current fund-raiser.

Kings fans can enter to win at the cornfield maze and pumpkin patch in Rough and Ready. The drawing will be held the first week of November.

For more information, contact Debi Gippner at 432-2977, or online at

Keith Jiron is a sports writer for The Union. E-mail him at


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