Meet Ed McGuire. Born and raised in Arizona, he lives with cerebral palsy. Upon first sight, many people dismiss him because of his spastic movements and the difficulty in deciphering his speech. However, if you spend enough time with him, the words become easier to understand. More importantly, you discover that beneath the surface is a man full of ideas to make the world more inclusive for people with disabilities. One of his ideas would revolutionize an adaptive sport for thousands of athletes around the world. Ed McGuire was a power soccer athlete who traveled the world and found success at the highest level of competition as a member of the 2007 World Cup championship team. Despite reaching the summit of the sport, he became increasingly frustrated with the limitations of equipment. Coupling his natural abilities with his knowledge of engineering, he envisioned a wheelchair specifically for power soccer. At the outset, he had no way to take this idea from his brain to the court. That all changed when he moved to Minnesota in 2011 to work at Power Soccer Shop. With the company’s manufacturing resources at his disposal, he collaborated with Senior Technician Milt Tuttle and owner Brian Akre to make this concept a reality. When the Strike Force was unveiled, it was unlike any other power wheelchair, with its wide wheel base and elongated foot guard. At first, it was met with a bit of skepticism. Any negative perceptions quickly shifted when early adopters demonstrated the chair’s unrivaled, high-performance abilities. Soon, the top power soccer athletes around the world were competing in the Strike Force. Today, the chair is seen flying across power soccer courts throughout North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Since its introduction in 2012, the Strike Force has transformed the game of power soccer. The chair allows athletes to perform at a speed and intensity that could never be achieved with other power wheelchairs, which were never designed for sport. With so many athletes now using the same world-class equipment, power soccer has truly evolved into a sport that focuses on the best athletes and teams, not who has the best power wheelchair. When discussing the fundamental reason for developing the chair, McGuire states: Rather than having to psychologically adjust for the lack of responsiveness in every other power chair out there, the Strike Force does exactly what the driver wants, when they want to. When you take away the need to mentally compensate for the chair’s shortcomings, you take away the chair. When you take away the chair, you take away the disability. All you are left with is a “player.” Today, McGuire once again lives in Arizona and has retired from playing power soccer. The next journey in his life is well underway. McGuire remains active working on new ideas to make the world accessible to everyone. In a recent conversation, he hinted his next idea will have an even greater impact than the Strike Force. We asked him for a few details, but he hesitated to divulge any information at the moment. Regardless of which problem McGuire decides to solve, if his prediction is correct, his next creation will have the capacity to be another game changer.
Story By Tony Jackson
Photo by Loren Worthington.