The last year of high school before leaving for college can be a tumultuous time filled with a lot of changes. Some kids move away from their home towns, some have to say goodbye to their high school sweethearts and others have to decide for the first time what their career path will be.
For Elijah Bondeson, a 19-year-old senior in high school, one of the biggest changes will be the move from Junior Division wheelchair basketball to the Adult or Intercollegiate Division. Elijah was born with Spina Bifida and has been playing wheelchair basketball in the NWBA’s Junior Division since he was about nine-years-old. “I’ve loved it ever since the moment I started playing it,” Elijah explained in a phone interview.
He plays for the Sportable Spokes of Richmond, Virginia, who are seeking an invitation to the 2018 National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament presented by ABC Medical this April. In his final year as a Junior Division player, Elijah has taken on larger leadership role according to his coach, Forrest Lodge. “He is a student of a game who loves to help the younger players,” Coach Lodge explained. “He is a vocal leader who leads by example. And any time we start a new drill, he is the first one to line up.”
His passion and leadership can be seen off the court as well. “Elijah is always willing to join us to spread awareness about adaptive sports at elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and juvenile detention facilities,” Coach Lodge said. The more you hear about Elijah, the more you understand that ‘senioritis’ is not in his vocabulary.
The Sportable Spokes are currently first in their conference and ranked 13th overall in the nation, which means that, barring anything drastic, they should get into the National Tournament. This would be Bondeson’s fifth tournament and when the final buzzer rings, he will be done with his career in the Junior Division.
But Elijah doesn’t plan to stop playing. “I want to see if I am recruited to a college team first and if not, I’ll join an Adult Division team,” Elijah stated when asked about his future plans. And after playing the sport for almost a decade, his coach has no doubt it will be a seamless transition into the Adult Division for him.
“With his high basketball IQ and passion for the game, it should be an easy transition for him,” Coach Lodge explained. “Every summer he goes to the camp at Edinboro University and he is constantly looking to get better.” Edinboro University is one of Elijah’s dream schools, so his experience at the camps will hopefully help him land a roster spot on one of the top collegiate teams in the nation.
With college acceptance responses rolling through in the next few month, Elijah will have to balance the nerves between waiting on college acceptances and the weeks leading up to his final National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament. And as he moves through the next few month, he’ll be living the immortal words of Bob Dylan:
“Oh the times they are achangin’.”