January Rankings for the NWBA Junior Varsity Division have been released. This past month was very active with more teams playing in a variety of competitions. The top 17 spots remained pretty consistent from the previous rankings with the top 5 teams maintaining their positions. These top ranked teams played consistently well and this is reflected in the rankings.
The Milwaukee Jr. Bucks took over the No. 6 spot bumping the Utah Jr. Bucks down one position. Similarly the LWSRA claimed No. 10 pushing the Chicago Skyhawks to No. 11. The Seattle Jr. Sonics dropped a spot as well landing at No.13.
The Peoria Wildcats were the surprise team, with a massive jump into the top 20 getting ranked at No. 17. The Peoria team was No. 37 last month. This was due in part to its great showing at the Whitewater Junior Regional Tournament. The Charlotte Rolling Hornets moved up from No. 40 to No. 34, and this marks a return to Junior Varsity play for the first time in several years.
Eight of the teams (highlighted with asterisks) have automatically qualified to take part in the National Tournament because they placed in the top two at their respective Junior Regional tournaments.
February and March will prove to be quite busy for the Junior Division with tournaments such as the Midwest Junior Regional Tournament and the San Diego Junior Tournament taking place in the coming weeks.
The top 16 teams will be invited to participate in the Junior Division National Tournament (NJWBT) and teams ranked 17-32 will play in the Junior Invitational Tournament (NJIT). Both will take place from April 7-10 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Click here for a list of upcoming tournaments:
Be sure to look out for the last ranking that will be issued in early March.
Teams listed below with an asterisk (*) after their name have earned a spot at the National Tournament through their success at Regional Tournaments.
Mackenzie Soldan joined the U.S. Women’s wheelchair basketball team in 2013, and has become a significant contributor quickly. She is a dual athlete having represented the U.S. in tennis at the 2012 London Paralympics. Leading up to the 2012 Paralympics, she was featured in PBS’ Medal Quest. Mackenzie is vying for her second Paralympics this time for wheelchair basketball focusing her efforts on helping her team bring home the gold.
Name- Mackenzie Soldan
Classification - 1.0
Height - 5’1"
Date of Birth - May 14, 1992
Place of Birth - Saginaw, Mich.
Hometown - Hemlock, Mich.
Residence - Tuscaloosa, Ala.
High School - Christian Academy of Louisville
College - University of Alabama, Graduated with a degree in Advertising
Graduate School - University of Alabama, Marketing
Expected year of graduation - 2016
2015 Parapan American - gold medal; 2015 Collegiate National Championship; 2011 U25 - gold medal; 2011 Collegiate National Championship
2012 Paralympic Games; 2011 Parapan American – gold medal
Jannine and Dave Soldan are Mackenzie’s parents and she has a sister named Kirsten.
Hobbies - Playing guitar
Competition Wheelchair - Top End
NWBA: Who is your hero and why?
Mackenzie: I have a lot of heroes. One of my heroes this past year was a girl named Lauryn Hill, whom I'm sure everyone has heard of. She was diagnosed with brain cancer and was not given long to live. One of her goals was to play one game for her college team before she passed, and she played 4. She had also raised millions for cancer research. Hearing her story of determination and love for the sport has motivated me to appreciate the moments that I have to play this sport. Lauryn was courageous.
NWBA: When did you start playing wheelchair basketball?
Mackenzie: Age 7
NWBA: Do you play any other sports? Did you receive any awards from other sports?
Mackenzie: Yes, I played wheelchair tennis. I was on the National Team from age 15 to age 21; competing in 4 World Cup Teams. I won 2 gold medals at the 2011 Parapan American Games and represented the U.S. in the 2012 London Paralympics.
NWBA: Is there a skill from tennis that translates over to wheelchair basketball?
Mackenzie: The most important thing I get from tennis is the mental aspect. In tennis it’s just you and your thoughts. The match can go real quick in tennis. You have to accept you’ll make mistakes but you have to move on. This helps me in wheelchair basketball when I get frustrated. It’s even more important in basketball because you have teammates relying on you.
NWBA: Do you take part in any volunteer activities (coaching etc.)?:
Mackenzie: I have taught various wheelchair tennis and basketball camps.
NWBA: Do you have any pre-game rituals or superstitions?
Mackenzie: I listen to music.
NWBA: Why do you play wheelchair basketball?
Mackenzie: It’s always been my passion. My parents were tennis players in high school so tennis has been a family thing. I had more tennis opportunities and successes earlier on but since basketball was always my passion I wanted to take it to the next level. I always had a goal of making a Paralympic wheelchair basketball team. Sometimes life doesn’t give you what you want right away. I tried out for Team USA for wheelchair basketball three times. The 4th time I made it.
NWBA: What is your favorite basketball moment?
Mackenzie: Definitely winning the gold medal at the Parapan Games in 2015. That was really cool. Previously I had been at the Parapans for tennis. Our team has been together since 2013. It was cool to experience to win the gold with a group of people you spent so much time with and have grown with. It was also great to beat the 2014 World Champions.
NWBA: What are your thoughts on what lies ahead in Rio?
Mackenzie: Our coaches will have us completely ready and prepared. I feel pretty confident. We have come a long way, even this year, and I look forward to the competition.
NWBA: Do you follow any sports? If so, which are your favorite teams?
Mackenzie: I follow football, tennis, and basketball. My favorite football teams are the Detroit Lions and the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. For tennis I'm a big fan of the Williams sisters, Nadal and Martina Hingis. My favorite basketball team is the Detroit Pistons.
NWBA: Do you have any pets?
Mackenzie: Yes, 2 cats and 1 dog.
NWBA: What is your short term goal?
Mackenzie: My short term goal is to make the Paralympic team for 2016 and graduate with a Master's Degree in May.
NWBA: What are your long term goals?
Mackenzie: Obtain a job in the marketing field; win a gold medal in Rio.
NWBA: Do you have any social media accounts that fans can follow you on?
Mackenzie: @MackenzieSoldan (Twitter) @mackenzies33 (Instagram)
Cover Photo Credit: Joe Kusumoto Photography
Have you participated in the Jr. NBA program? Do you want your team featured as part of the Jr. NBA Program of the Week? Now is your chance to get recognized in the big leagues. For the next eight weeks, beginning Jan. 22 to March 14, the Jr. NBA presented by Under Armour will reward and recognize one registered Jr. NBA organization per week that embodies the values of the Jr. NBA and brings the Jr. NBA Pledge to life.
Winning organizations will receive a $500 Under Armour Gift Card and be featured on the NBA social media platforms. What do you have to do?
Upload images, send Jr. NBA videos, and explain how you think your organization embodies the values of the Jr. NBA presented by Under Armour. View contest rules here.
You must be registered for the Jr. NBA to apply. If your team is not a registered Jr. NBA member, click here to register now.
Last fall, the NWBA partnered with the Jr. NBA to help our teams get further involved. For more information on the NWBA partnership, click here.
January marks the beginning of my first full year as the Executive Director of the NWBA. I began this journey last summer when I was approached by Board of Director leadership Sarah Castle and Bruce Fischbach, an old friend from my college days at Nebraska, to see if I had an interest in the NWBA and this position. I really didn’t know much about the NWBA other than the elite games that I had watched in the Paralympics when I was the CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee where the skill and competitiveness of the athletes was most impressive. It has been a very interesting first few months and I am looking forward to the many challenges ahead of us. I wish to thank all of you for the warm welcome that I have received thus far.
I would like to share with you what I believe to be the current state of the NWBA and our priorities as an association for the coming year. There are a large number of strengths the association possesses that can be built upon for the future:
• High Performance – Both the Men and Women’s National Teams won gold medals at the Parapan Games in Toronto last August and are on track for podium finishes in the Paralympic Games in Rio this summer. There are great athletes in the program, strong support staff and coaches in place, and a good feeder system.
• The NWBA is the oldest and largest of all the Paralympic sport organizations.
o The NWBA National Tournament is the largest disabled single-sport event in the world with nearly 90 teams and over 1,000 athletes.
o Wheelchair Basketball participation has increased to 42 states, up four from 2014.
o A 10% increase over the prior year for registered teams for the 2015-16 season, and boasts more than 3,100 registered members.
o Relaunched website has witnessed 73,000 page views with 54,000 unique visitors since September.
o Our social network reach has increased to over 13,000 followers collectively, an increase of 30% since August last year.
• The collegiate programs are very competitive and serve as a strong development pool for emerging elite athletes and coaches development. The availability of collegiate scholarships with good programs and high visibility for wheelchair basketball is a significant benefit.
• The NWBA has a strong core group of passionate volunteers and members who give of themselves to run our programming.
• There is strong leadership at the Board level, including a very successful two-sport Paralympic medalist as Board President.
• The NWBA receives strong support from the U.S. Olympic Committee and U.S. Paralympics
• Operation Rebound has great potential through the introduction of wheelchair basketball to disabled veterans providing both rehabilitation as well as the opportunity to join its high performance athlete pools.
• The NWBA mission encompasses an extremely strong cause that rallies support for its programming.
The organization does, however, face some very strong challenges. The organization has been in a state of change with staff turnover and a good deal of confusion over direction this past year.
The organization has been plagued by some poor business practices that open the NWBA up to potential risks and have reduced its ability to be as effective as it could be.
The financial resources that have been generated have not been sufficient for the NWBA to fulfill its mission and the organization has had a practice of spending more money that it has been bringing in. The NWBA financial reserves are still sufficient but since July of 2011 through August of this past year, the organization spent $542,000 more than it brought in. This is a trend that we will reverse in 2016; the organization cannot continue to overspend and maintain its reserves and financial viability for the future.
The board has just approved the NWBA’s budget for 2016 with the key principle that the organization will bring in more revenue that it spends. Key strategic priorities for 2016:
1) Grow revenue streams available to the organization
2) Improve event management and development
3) Achieve podium finishes in Rio for Men and Women’s Paralympic teams
4) Strengthen the NWBA through Organizational Development
5) Create more value for members through increased programming
6) Build more effective communication and public relations
7) Develop more effective relationship with key organizations including the NBA, USA Basketball, the USOC, and the military and veteran affairs
In my short time here I have become a believer in the power of the fulfillment of the mission of the NWBA and its ability to impact the lives of the individuals involved in the sport and inspire our country with what our athletes do on the field of play. I would like to share a couple of stories that have inspired me.
Will Waller – I was able to meet Will during the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Selection Camp in Colorado Springs. Wheelchair basketball saved Will literally and ultimately provided a path in life that is the epitome of a success story.
Will is originally from inner city Chicago and walked a less than favorable lifestyle as a teen and was shot in the back and paralyzed. He suffered from depression for two years and was then introduced to wheelchair basketball. He was able to attend the University of Illinois where his athletic career exploded and at the same time he obtained his undergraduate and masters degrees. He played for Team USA on several World Championship squads and the 2000 U.S. Paralympic Team. He stepped away from the National Team for about seven years while serving several major corporations as a human resources professional and then earned a bronze medal with the 2012 Paralympic team. He is currently the Vice President of Human Resources for Goodyear Rubber Company. Today, he is in line to possibly earn a position on the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team, for the third time in his career.
Abby Farrell – Is an age-group athlete I happen to know from the Colorado Springs area. I have been fortunate to know and watch her grow up over the years. Abby was diagnosed with Spina Bifida and the positive effects that adaptive sports has played into Abby’s life has been remarkable. She loves to play basketball and has been a member of the Denver Rolling Nuggets program for the last four years. I asked Abby to write a paragraph about the importance of Wheelchair Basketball to her.
From Abby Farrell: “Playing wheelchair basketball has made such a huge impact on my life. I have met so many amazing people and I have made so many friends from around the country. Wheelchair basketball has also been a great way for me to become active and stay healthy. But basketball has also made an impact on my life outside of the basketball court. It has taught me discipline, teamwork, and it motivates me to do well in school. Since I started playing basketball it has been a passion of mine and I wouldn’t trade the experiences that basketball has given me for anything.”
These are just two examples of the impressive impact wheelchair basketball has in the lives of the NWBA athletes. I have been driven in my professional career to try to make a difference in the lives of athletes and through the impact and inspiration of those athletes make our communities, country, and world a better place. I am tremendously appreciative of the the opportunity to serve as the Executive Director of the NWBA. The organization has great potential and a proud history on which to build and I look forward to this journey with you.
January Rankings for Championship and Division III have been released. The season is in full swing with tournaments taking place every weekend. The weekend of Jan. 16 was busy as many teams played in either the Pioneer Classic or the Duke Classic, which set the stage for movement in the rankings.
The Dallas Wheelchair Mavs of the Championship Division and TIRR Hotwheels of Division III came out on top at the Pioneer Classic and this is mirrored in the respective ranking of each division as both maintained its No. 1 spots in each division ranking since November.
The top six teams in the Championship division maintained its ranking from the prior month. The big movement for the top 20 was the Utah Wheelin’ Jazz who slid into the No. 7 position, up 11 spaces from last month. The new addition to the rankings for the first time this year are the Oklahoma City MAPVA Chargers at No. 20.
In Division III, two new teams entered the top 5 with the Fort Lauderdale Sharks at the No.2 spot, who were No. 5 in December. The Med Star NRH Ambassadors moved up three positions into No. 5. Both teams played strong at the Pioneer Classic to be the elevated. The Memphis Rollin’ Grizzlies and MAPVA Rimriders slid up two positions to No. 8 and No. 9, respectively, while the Cleveland Wheelchair Cavaliers dropped one slot in January to No. 10.
Four new teams found spots in the top 24 for the first time all season: No. 21 – Lafayette Spin-ners; No. 22 – Cincinnati Royals; No. 23 – Detroit Diehards; and No. 24 – Miami Valley Minute-men.
The season is starting to take shape with numerous events and provide a competitive landscape for both divisions at the 2016 National Tournament set for Louisville, Ky., April 7-10, as the na-tional title for each division appears to be up for grabs.
“Coming into February, we are approaching the heart of a very exciting season and we see teams battling for their position in the rankings,” said Buddy Barnes, NWBA Championship and Division III Commissioner. “I have witnessed some very good and close played games. I am re-ally looking forward to seeing how the next few weeks play out. As we go down the home stretch, this will determine who will make it to the National Tournament.”
The top ranked teams in the divisions will earn an invitation to the National Tournament, where the teams will play for the coveted National title. The National Tournament is a four-day event that features the best wheelchair basketball teams in the country in five age divisions that fea-tures up to 90 teams and over 1,000 athletes.
Championship Division January Rankings
1. Dallas Wheelchair Mavericks
2. New York Rollin’ Knicks
3. Milwaukee Bucks “A”
4. University of Arizona Wildcats
5. Rogue Valley Scorpions
6. Bay City Thunder
7. Utah Wheelin’ Jazz
8. Sacramento Rollin’ Kings
9. Austin Rec’ers
10. Golden State Road Warriors
11. San Diego Wolfpack
12. Seattle Sonics
13. Albuquerque Kings
14. Miami Heat Wheels
15. Charlottesville Cardinals
16. RIC Hornets
17. Shepherd Stealers
18. Mary Free Bed Pacers
19. San Antonio Spurs
20. Oklahoma City MAPVA Chargers
Division III January Rankings
1. TIRR Hotwheels
2. Ft. Lauderdale Sharks
3. Fayetteville Flyers
4. Nassau Kings
5. Med Star NRH Ambassadors
6. Delaware Destroyers
7. Carolina Tarwheels
8. Memphis Rollin’ Grizzlies
9. MAPVA Rimriders
10. Cleveland Cavaliers
11. Turnstone Bandits
12. DFW Freewheelers
13. LA Hotwheels
14. Mobile Patriots
15. Tampa Bay Strong Dogs
16. Music City Lightning
17. Shepherd Stealers
18. Magee Spokesmen
19. London Forest City Flyers
20. Connecticut Spokebenders
21. Lafayette Spinners
22. Cincinnati Royals
23. Detroit Diehards
24. Miami Valley Minutemen
NOTE FOR TEAMS: Be sure to send in your Post Season applications to be considered for a spot at the National Tournament. The deadline is February 12th. If you have any questions, e-mail Buddy Barnes by clicking here.
The National Wheelchair Basketball Association is pleased to announce the 2016 Wayne Kunishige Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship will be presented to an NWBA player who is a high school senior and planning to attend college or other educational endeavors.
Applications are due no later than March 10, 2016. Click on the link below for the application.
Review the attached award nomination to cast your vote.
The NWBA Bill and Julie Duncan Good Guy Award is presented annually to an NWBA volunteer who exemplifies a commitment to wheelchair basketball at the grassroots level through contributions to a local team, conference or the national organization.
Applications are due no later than March 10, 2016.
On December 17, 2015 (111 days prior to the General Assembly) an announcement was sent via email to all NWBA Registered Team Representatives outlining upcoming key dates for the 2016 National Tournament and General Assembly meeting.
This article serves as a reminder to our membership of the dates for the submission and announcement process of Amendments of the Bylaws.
Follow the link below for a copy of the current NWBA Bylaws.
Amendment of the Bylaws
Section 20.1: Amendments
These NWBA Bylaws may be amended at the NWBA Annual Assembly by a two-thirds (2/3) majority of the voting membership present and voting provided that the proposed amendment is submitted in writing to the Executive Director and the chair of the Governance Committee at least ninety (90) days preceding the annual meeting.
Upon receipt of a properly submitted amendment proposal:
i. The staff of the NWBA, with the oversight of the Board of Directors, shall mail a copy of the proposed amendment to all active members of the NWBA at least sixty (60) days before the annual meeting, - (FEBRUARY 6, 2016)
ii. A copy of the proposed amendment shall be posted on the NWBA website (www.NWBA.org) not later than sixty (60) days before the annual meeting, and - (FEBRUARY 6, 2016)
iii. All amendments, unless otherwise specified, shall become effective 30 days following adoption at the NWBA Annual Assembly. (MARCH 7, 2016)
Since 1998, the NWBA Junior Division has recognized student athletes in grades 10-12 for excellence on the court as well as in the classroom through our Academic All American awards. This year we are expanding the program to recognize student athletes in grades 5-9 with the new Academic Achievers awards.
We encourage all student athletes who have earned a "B" average or higher (3.0 on a 4.0 point scale) and are willing to complete a project to apply for this honor.
The NWBA was established after World War II to help veterans rehabilitate and integrate back into society. Through the fearless and tireless leadership of Dr. Timothy Nugent, the scope of the organization grew over time to help many people with disabilities, regardless of origin.
We are proud to have this year's awards honor Nugent's memory. Dr. Nugent recognized the strong power of sport as a tool to help disabled people throughout all aspects of their lives and we offer these honors in that spirit.
Use the links below to begin your application process. Thank you for your interest and consideration.
College, D3, Championship