JMU News

It's all about how you rebound

Alums captivate audiences, raise awareness about adaptive sport

image: /_images/news/2016/09/12-rebound-koren-esposito.jpg

SUMMARY: JMU alums Shaina Koren ('11) and Mike Esposito ('10) directed and produced an award-winning documentary, "The Rebound," that follows the players of the Miami Heat Wheels, the city's only wheelchair basketball team. The Rebound sparks important conversations about disability and equal opportunity.

From the Fall 2016 print issue of Madison

The Rebound is an award-winning documentary that follows the players of the Miami Heat Wheels, the city’s only wheelchair basketball team. Directed by Shaina Koren (’11) and produced by Mike Esposito (’10), The Rebound sparks important conversations about disability and equal opportunity. Since its international debut, The Rebound has won acclaim as an official selection at nine prestigious film festivals and awards, including the Kaiser Thrive Award (Cinequest Film Festival) and the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Brooklyn Film Festival.

The Rebound crew is actively partnering with like-minded organizations around the country to raise awareness, foster important conversations and stimulate support for adapted athletic programs.

Photo of Rebound
Two players fight to steal the ball.

I connected to The Rebound thanks to a shared desire to change attitudes and perspectives about inclusion and adapted sport. Professor Joshua Pate of hospitality, sport and recreation management and I arranged to meet with Shaina and Mike to explore potential partnerships and to lay the foundation for screening the film on the JMU campus.

We figured out a way to take our skill sets and use them to make an impact on the world – to Be the Change.

- Shaina Koren (’11)

When asked how their JMU experience contributed to their current success, the filmmakers noted how being a Duke helped them view life through a different lens: “JMU [offers] opportunities to be exposed to new people, perspectives and experiences. Shaina and I actually met [on] a JMU study abroad program to the Philippines. … [and] we emerged as transformed individuals on a common path,” says Mike.

Shaina says, “My JMU experience (SMAD, anthropology, FrOG, ASB, Study Abroad, Students Helping Honduras) allowed me to … take a stand for what I believed in. These skills served me well with our impact-driven approach to documentary filmmaking. We believed that this unfamiliar world we had stumbled into — of competitive adapted sports, and of people who may look a little different than us but became our best friends — was a story worth telling.”

About the author: Professor Cathy McKay teaches in kinesiology, physical and health education’s teacher education concentration.

Published: Monday, September 12, 2016

Last Updated: Friday, November 18, 2016

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