A group of Unversity nursing students see an aspect of basketball beyond the hype of college varsity hoops.

Students in the class Nursing 214, which focuses on spinal cord injury raised hundreds of dollars for cord research by holding a three-on-three basketball tournament yesterday. The class raised $700 for the Daniel Heumann Foundation for Spinal Cord Research.

Teams of students not in the class competed in the tournament for the first prize of basketballs signed by University basketball coach Tommy Amaker.

“We just figured out what sport would work the best and be of most interest to students, and we came up with basketball,” said LSA senior Jeff Kominsky, who had the opportunity to instruct the course for academic credit.

The tournament was part of the one-credit nursing seminar. Guest speakers visit the class every week to talk about issues related to spinal cord injuries and other disabilities, some sharing their personal stories.

“The class goes through the progressive process of spinal cord injury,” Kominsky said. “For instance, one week we had a doctor come in to talk about physiological aspects and the next week a physical therapist. We even had a class in the hospital to learn about technology and one with the Law School’s dean of students.”a

The class covers a wide range of topics, from disability law to technological systems to the care of disabled individuals.

“It is one thing to learn theory in a classroom, but it is entirely different to see and hear the reality of a situation. That is the purpose of this class, to expose the students to the realities of life,” Kominsky said.

The class requires each student to be involved in a community service project, and everyone got involved in one large group effort to plan the basketball tournament, which Kominsky said proved to be a great success.

“At first I was doing this because I had to as part of a class project, but then I met a bunch of great people while organizing it, and as I learned more through the class, I began to really care about the issue (of spinal cord injury).

“I would get overwhelmed with work, but then I would listen to another speaker who was living with injury or paralysis and be motivated all over again,” said Pam Clay, co-chair of the organization committee.

Students in the class worked for months on the project, starting out with basic plans.

“You wouldn’t believe the work that can go into a three-on-three basketball tournament. I have organized events before, but none of them were as involved as this,” Clay said.

The tournament was set up so that eight teams were playing at a time. The original goal for the tournament was to get about 60 teams to sign up. But with less than a week before the event and just four teams registered to play, students became more than a little worried.

“Luckily, there was a surge at the last minute of teams registering, and now we have 18. It ended up being a great number for the event,” said Pharmacy graduate student Sarah Werner.

The atmosphere was laid back as some teams laughed at their own lack of skill while others played with the intensity of professionals.

“I’m excited to be here, and it’s great to see that there are so many other people willing to contribute. … Everyone seems to have come out to play basketball and have a great time while supporting a good cause, no matter how good they are a basketball,” Clay said.

“That is the best part of the class, that students are approaching disability issues in the real world, not just in a classroom,” Kominsky said.

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