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The Sport That Changed Coach And Inspired The Journey
Coach James Gumbert, “Coach Gumbie” has been inducted into the United States wheelchair rugby Association, Hall of Fame. Coach was presented to the Hall of Fame by former USA wheelchair rugby and Stampede staff member Robert Murray.
Here’s a brief video of the induction, as well as the written speech.
God is great all the time. Amen.
I want to say thank you to everyone involved in this nomination and vote.
I also want to request that we take a moment of silence for all of our brothers and sisters that have passed away during the past year.
I am truly humbled by this award. I want to say thank you to the Hall of Fame committee and all of those that voted me to be a part of it.
Any success I have had is because of my faith, family and friends. I give all the glory to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who has blessed me with his mercy and grace.
The first people I need to think is my wife and kids. They have been there from day one and have supported me through all the, tears and cheers and have lifted when things were tough. And They scream for joy when things were great. There’s absolutely no way that I could’ve done any of this without them. They are the true team behind the team. And I love them so much.
For us, our success always starts with are staff. We have been very fortunate to be surrounded with greatness both on a club as well as a international level. The first person I start with is Bob Murray he is a brother from another mother and has always been somebody in the trenches and on the court. He has talked me off the ledge more times than I can count. He is a true friend and a great team member. Other staff members and I know I’m going to forget some include big daddy, Jim Murdock, Patrick Cornelius, Gary Pate, Marty, Frierson, Chuck French, Neil Vesco, Callie Martin, Heather Rennerfeldt, Brian, Nicholson, papa Fries, Britney, Fries, Jeff Konin, and the list goes on. Another staff member that deserves special recognition was our team manager, Mandy Goff, who let us all with style, grace, wisdom, and experience. Without her efforts, we would not be able to be the team that we were. I love you and thank you all for your dedication to the teams.
We were also very fortunate to be surrounded by great coaches. Three Hall of Famer’s already Dave Ceruti, Troy , McGuirk, Andy Cohn, and Sue Tucker are all world. Each of them brought their own strengths to the team and made us the best in the world. Thank you all for your dedication and passion to make a difference.
A special thank you goes to the people that were instrumental in getting me introduced and exposed to the sport. The first one is Wendy Gumbert I like to say she was introduced to Wheelchair Sports because of my injury and she was responsible for me getting active and wheelchair rugby. Thank you WENDY.
The next person is Reggie Richner. He was the first person I called when I started coaching not only did he answer the call, but over the years provided a great leader ship with his own style and humor that allowed me to learn and not take it as seriously as I was trying to. Thank you for being a great teacher Reggie. I love you. The next person was our Radar O’Reilly on the team. John Bishop if you don’t remember him look him up he’s responsible for so much that you see around you. He was the first person to come up with a webpage for the league he was the president of the league. He was a manager for Team USA. When we didn’t have money, John would go out and do a fundraiser, when we didn’t have a place to stay, he would find a home in Southern California for us to stay at for free, he was kind enough to teach me about the administrative side of the sport. Without him I would never understand how to run a team efficiently. Thank you John.
The next person is my Coach Kevin Orr. Kevin was either crazy enough or smart enough to select me to be his assistant coach. Not only did he allow me the grace and the ability to make mistakes, but constantly lifted and taught me how to be not just a great coach but be a better man. He left an incredible legacy that I continue to this day to try to live up to. Thank you BUBBA I love you.
Finally a special thank you to the athletes, both on the Stampede as well as Team USA. A few special ones that stand out. Will Groulx, Seth McBride, Jason, Reiger, Andy Cohn, and Scott Hogsett. All of these athletes are gold medalist as well as multiple time world champions. Each of them deserves to be in this Hall of Fame before me. If they ever need someone to write a letter to get them inducted, I will gladly write it for them. There are so many others on teams, and please forgive me for not saying everyone’s name. Your passion, strength, wisdom, ability, and performance made us the very best on and off the court in the world. Thank you for everything that you did to make us the best.
A few people have asked me what do you want to be your legacy? It’s pretty simple. We were inclusive, and we were able to perform at the highest level and never be off the podium. We changed lives one here at a time.
A few facts about our programs.
At one point during our program over a quarter of our team was female. That was unheard of back in the day. but we chose people not because they were female but because they were the best at what they did.
At one point a quarter of our team was people of color. Again you just didn’t see it anywhere in the world names like Josh, Brewer, Anthony McDaniel, Del Willard, Joe, Pabon, JoeJ, Dre, ‘Ernie Garcia were all part of both programs that help change attitudes and culture in our programs. They weren’t picked because they were people of color they were chosen because they were the best in the world at what they did.
Another pipeline was our inclusion of military veterans. At one point we had over eight representatives in our programs from four branches of the service. Thank you for your service, leader ship, and direction not just in the service, but on our teams. It made a difference and you made a difference in so many peoples lives.
As you can see, that’s a huge impact and each of these athletes and staff and others around the sport are deserving of recognition. So many of them deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. I am lucky and smart enough to know that if you surround yourself with greatness, you really look good. thank you all for giving everything that you have to make us the best at what we do.
The Stampede have continued to be one of the most established and successful programs in USWRA history. In their 25 years of time together. They have finished out of the top 10 one time and won three division one titles and one division two title. They have hosted over 20 international athletes on the team and have roster numerous Paralympian, world, champion, Pan-American, and other elite athletes. Three of our athletes are already in the Hall of Fame. Stampede athletes have starred in movies, TV series, documentaries, written books, and are featured in podcast.
From a club side, we never excluded anybody from playing with us. Whether they were living in Cedar park or far away, they always had a place at our table to compete. We are a team that takes pride in making sure everybody got a chance to participate in Sport no matter what. You could be the first person in the gym or not even know how to get to the gym and you were always welcome.
The Texas Stampede has also served as host for the national championships and one of the Premier tournaments the Texas Hold’em in Las Vegas Nevada. We’ve hosted sectionals, Texas cups, summer blast and numerous other events to promote the sport and athletes who play it.
Team USA 212-30 never finished off the podium. Gold, at the Paralympics, world championship, Pan-American, world challenges, and numerous other national and international tournaments. We developed a feeder program the force that competed domestically and internationally.
On the elite level, we were lucky to be part of a magical journey. We accomplished so much with very little. We were always cast as the underdog, and that was something we used in practice and performance. The results speak for themselves.
I was fortunate to be a part of a group of volunteers that were on boards and committees and cared more about the sport and those who played it can be described. As a Commissioner, president, rac, committee member, international representative for the league. It was my desire to make a change on a daily basis in the lives of those who enjoy the sport. Everything that we did was to change, empower and make a difference one hit at a time. Thank you to everyone of you who served and push the needle forward.
This all happened with a simple formula of Faith, Family, Friends.
I want to say thank you again to everyone on the Hall of Fame committee and to everyone who has and continues to push the bar forward. You have a great sport here that has change so many lives and done it at the highest level. Thank you for letting me be a part of it,
Coach James Gumbert, “Coach Gumbie” has been inducted into the United States wheelchair rugby Associ
Coach James Gumbert
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