By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
Elliott Murphy's biggest love, when it comes to sports, is basketball.
But, his first love was skiing. He first tried sit skiing in grade school at Snow Creek Ski Area in nearby Weston.
But, after having to miss a season due to surgery in seventh grade, Murphy was introduced to wheelchair basketball.
Five years later, Murphy, a senior and two-sport athlete at Bishop LeBlond, signed his national letter of intent Tuesday to play wheelchair basketball at the University of Arizona.
"I love the culture there," Murphy said. "The coach (Mike Beardsley) has been really great recruiting me. He offered me a spot. I reached out to him last November when they came to Mizzou. He realized my potential."
"Also, I love the campus and the players who are already there."
Murphy has played basketball for the Kansas City Kings - a team affiliated with Midwest Adaptive Sports - since 2018.
Elliott’s father, Scott Murphy, says it was the team aspect of basketball that Elliott fell in love with.
"(Elliott) has developed friends he connects with all over the country," Scott said. "As much as he loves basketball, and we saw how it changed him and his motivation, we encouraged him to pursue basketball as long as he can."
Murphy still does some sit skiing for fun. He's also done baseball in his past, and is a member of LeBlond's varsity track team.
In fact, Murphy has won 12 medals at state track in para events over the last three seasons, including nine gold medals, competing in the 100, 200 and 400 meter dash, as well as shot put.
Arizona is one of about a dozen Division I schools nationwide that offer basketball as part of their adaptive sports program.
Based in Tucson, Arizona has one of the biggest and best adaptive sports programs in the country, offering golf, rugby, tennis and other sports, including track and road racing.
"If I ever wanted to pursue track as well, I could just reach out to the coach and pursue both," Elliott said.
As for what Elliott might study, Scott said his son is undecided on an exact major at the moment, but Elliott might pursue something in the area of international philanthropy.
Elliott, with the help of friends and teammates, started a grassroots non-profit called 'Wheels-to-Wheels.'
Murphy went on a mission trip to Haiti when he was 9, and he offered chairs that he had outgrown to people in need there.
Inspired by that experience, and with the help of Hope Haven International Ministries based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Murphy helps get used chairs from various basketball tournaments he participates in. Hope Haven then works to distribute those chairs to people in need around the world.
"He does have motivation to pursue international work and philanthropy," Scott said. "Basketball has been his life. So, we try to support it and it's been life changing for us."
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