By Leah Williams
Not long after finding out that he had once again made the Team USA wheelchair rugby team, Chuck Melton learned that he would soon get to experience something he never thought possible.
Melton and some of his teammates will be featured on an episode of the hit show “NCIS: New Orleans” later this season.
“It was about two weeks, when we received a phone call and an email saying that an opportunity had come up,” Melton said. “‘NCIS: New Orleans’ was wanting to do a show about wheelchair rugby.”
The episode that centers on the actor Daryl Mitchell and his character Patton Plame. While Melton said he could not give away much information about the episode itself, he said there are several scenes where Patton is participating in a rugby match.
Melton described the experience as a lot of “hurry up and wait,” where plays were choreographed and ran through initially with the players before inviting the actors on set. Melton said the show was filmed in an old high school that was made to look like an old rec center.
Melton said that Mitchell, who received a spinal injury after a motorcycle accident
“He loved every second he was out there competing,” Melton said.
Melton knows how the discovery of wheelchair rugby can have on a person. In 2002, Melton acquired a spinal cord injury after a diving accident. It was five years after that he began playing the sport, and he has since made the Team USA squad since 2012.
Recently Melton attended the selection cam in Birmingham, AL, where both he and Eric Newby were selected onto the team. The USA Wheelchair Rugby team will host an international tournament in May, where the members will face off against top teams from all over the world.
This season, Melton also received the distinction of being named team captain. He said he hopes that others will get a sense of how wheelchair rugby can impact others.
“I love it,” he said. “It saved my life. It saved my marriage. And now I am getting to do things I never thought I would ever be able to do.”