The Thunder Rolls


Reporter, Riley Rosi, captures the unknown world of Power Soccer. Photo credited to Coach Kirk Westrick.

Riley Rosi, Reporter

Though soccer is a universally-renowned sport, very few people have knowledge of power soccer. Power soccer is a version of soccer developed for people with physical disabilities. Rather than being played outdoors, power soccer uses the player’s power wheelchair to play on an indoor basketball court.  The wheelchair is adapted with a plastic or metal guard on the front of the chair, and the ball is larger than an average soccer ball. The guards are used to push the ball around the court and protect the player’s feet when athletes crash into each other.

Rolling Thunder, a local power soccer team, is the only one of it’s kind in Washington state. The team was founded in 2005 by Marlo and David Thompson.  Kirk Westrick has been the coach for many years; he first found the team when his daughter, Macy, was looking for a sport that she could participate in.

Before I heard about power soccer, I wasn’t sure I could play sports.”

— Cody Hinkley

“Macy has cerebral palsy.  I was coaching my son, Brooks, in basketball and baseball.  Being in a power wheelchair, there weren’t a lot of sports options for Macy.  I started looking around in the area. The team, Rolling Thunder, was just starting to form, and Macy started getting involved. I was then asked to coach.” said Westrick.

Even though power soccer is an adapted sport, it is very competitive for the athletes that play.  Power soccer is the first sport that player Cody Hinkley heard about that he was able engage in, which is why Hinkley decided to become part of the team in 2006.

“Before I heard about power soccer, I wasn’t sure I could play sports. Even now, most people are confused or give me a funny look when I tell them I play soccer,” said Hinkley.

To Rolling Thunder, being part of a team means coming to practice and games whenever you can, as well as connecting with teammates on social media.  The team has veteran players like Krystl Cornyn, who has been playing for 10 years. Such players have watched the team change over the years.

“I am part of a team, and that feels good; I enjoy being part of the team,” said Cornyn.

The unique dynamic of power soccer provides Hinkley and other athletes with the opportunity to compete as individuals and to be a part of something bigger than themselves: a team.  They are no longer athletes with disabilities; they are people doing what they love, just like everyone else.

I am part of a team, and that feels good; I enjoy being part of the team.”

— Krystl Cornyn

“As a coach, I try to treat players that are in a wheelchair just the same as I would any other able bodied player.  If they need me to get after them, I would do that the same way and treat them just as I would any other player.  I have a good time with them, mess around, pick on them just like I would with an able bodied player in any other sport.  Because of that, I think the power wheelchair athletes appreciate me. They get to be treated like anybody else would, and it makes it fun for all of us,” said Westrick.

Currently, the team roster consists of 18 players, and the closest competition is in British Columbia, Canada.

Most of the Rolling Thunder players are from the Gig Harbor, Tacoma, and Federal Way areas.  The team practices twice a month at Life Center in Tacoma.  The team is always looking for more athletes.  To learn more about the team, Coach Westrick can be contacted at

They get to be treated like anybody else would, and it makes it fun for all of us.”

— Kirk Westrick

“First of all, I would like more people in wheelchairs to know about our sport. Numbers fluctuate up and down, but I would like players to know that it’s a sport available to them and also to let the general public know that it’s a sport just like anybody else plays,” said Westrick. “Power soccer is competitive: we crash, we bang, we get mad at each other, we smile with each other, and just like any other sport, we get after it and have a great time.”