The Memorial Rehab Fort Lauderdale Sharks celebrated their first championship win Friday. They were honored as National Champions in Division II of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.
"It’s wonderful. There’s a lot of work that we put in," said player Manuel Rodriguez Rosado.
Rodriguez Rosado has been in a wheelchair for 11 years. Blood clots in his toes eventually led to the amputation of his right leg.
"I fought it for 11 years doing bypass. It hasn’t been that bad, of course no one wants to lose a limb but when you lose it, you keep moving forward," he said.
He never gave up on his love for basketball and he likes to show his young peers how important your mindset is, on and off the court.
"Seeing them smile makes me happy. I’m an old guy, I'm 57 years old. Playing with kids, I love it," said Rodriguez Rosado.
The team is managed by mentors like Rodriguez Rosado, Memorial Healthcare System's Memorial Rehab Institute Adaptive Sports and Recreation program and the coach.
"We made the championship in our third year and it was a horrible defeat so to be able to come back and redeem ourselves was a wonderful task," said coach Sherrod Nelson.
The Sharks made history, being the first in Broward County to win a national championship title.
"Most of them having injuries or being disabled, they’re motivated on their own to prove themselves that they’re able to participate in sports," said Nelson.
"What’s next? Another championship! We started the new season, the hardest thing is to win it back to back and that's our guys goals. Our guys are competitive. We started practicing, we're traveling and we’re ready to repeat," said general manager Ray Shipman.
There’s no handicapped on my team. We’re all handi-capable. We’re capable to do whatever we try," said Rodriguez Rosado.
Before winning the national championship title this year, the closest the Sharks came to winning was in 2016 as runners up.