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    NWBA Athlete of the Week - Megan Blunk

    02/10/2016, 9:45am CST
    By NWBA

    Weekly Installment featuring men's and women's Team USA players

    Megan is one of three athletes on the U.S. Women’s wheelchair basketball team coming out of the January Selection Camp vying for a chance to make it to Rio for her first Paralympic Games.  She was part of the U.S. Women’s team that placed fourth at the 2014 IWBF World Championships and helped bring home a gold medal from the Parapan American Games in Toronto in 2015.  Megan was also a member of the 2014 U.S. Paralympic Canoe National team and won two silver medals at the 2013 Paralympic Canoe World Championships.

    Name: Megan Blunk
    Classification: 3.0
    Height: 5’3”
    Date of birth: September 12, 1989
    Place of birth: Tacoma, Wash.
    Hometown: Gig Harbor, Wash.
    Residence: Champaign, Ill.
    High school: Peninsula, High School, Gig Harbor, Wash.
    College: University of Illinois 
    Graduate school: Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Mental Health
    Expected year of Graduation: 2017

    Career Highlights:
    Wheelchair basketball:
    2015 Parapan American games, gold medal
    2014 IWBF World Championships, 4th place

    Paralympic Canoe: 
    2014 Paralympic Canoe World Championships-
    Women’s K1 TA- 4th place
    Women’s V1 TA- 4th place

    2013 Paralympic Canoe World Championships-
    Women’s K1 TA- silver medal
    Women’s V1 TA- silver medal

    Competition Wheelchair: Per4Max

    Personal Background: 
    Megan’s mom is Wendy Ricketts and her dad and step mother are David and Jackie Blunk.  She has four sisters, Kelci, Shanae, Monique and Alaisa.

    Hobbies:  Watching documentaries, playing catch, hanging out with friends and spending time with her dog.  She also loves to drive and go on any kind of car ride.

    NWBA: Who is your hero and why?
    Megan: My hero is my friend Tony.  He passed away a few years ago and I only got to know him for two years but he was the most positive, outgoing, passionate and caring person that I have ever met.  He got caught up in a bad situation when he was younger and he was shot in the back and became paralyzed.  From that day forward he completely turned his life around and did everything he could to help other people make their lives better as well.

    NWBA: When did you start playing wheelchair basketball?
    Megan: I started playing when I was 19 years old after I was in a motorcycle accident where I broke my back and became paralyzed from the waist down.

    NWBA: Do you play any other sports?  Did you receive any awards from other sports?
    Megan: I grew up playing every sport and I had the opportunity to play after my accident.  I played wheelchair basketball and competed in Paracanoe where I won two silver medals at the 2013 Paralympic Canoe World Championships.

    NWBA: You have been very open about your battle with depression and your desire to help others.  Can you elaborate?
    Megan: It is really scary when you open up about it.  I have had it my whole life.  You are so sad and you think no one can understand it.  You don’t want people to think you are weak.  You hold back. You can be filled with self doubt.  Because of my experiences, I want to help people going through depression and help them fight through it like I am. I believe in myself and in all these things I have been able to accomplish. I have so much support.  So many people have always believed in me and are cheering me on. I am so grateful.

    NWBA: How has Paracanoe helped your wheelchair basketball game?
    Megan: With Paracanoe it is an individual sport and you have to rely on yourself.  The training is a lot stronger.  There is more cardio and non-stop working on your arms.  It gave me good balance and has made me more solid.   Both sports are so different.  I like training for a team sport more.

    NWBA: What, if any, are your volunteer activities (coaching etc.)?
    Megan: I have volunteered at multiple wheelchair basketball camps for the University of Illinois.

    NWBA: Do you have any pre-game rituals or superstitions?
    Megan: I just like to start shooting around as soon as possible.  It helps me to calm my mind and focus in on what I am doing.

    NWBA:  Why do you play wheelchair basketball?
    Megan: I play wheelchair basketball because I love being a part of a team, playing a game that requires so many different skills and because it gives me the opportunity to always push myself to be the best that I can be mentally and physically on and off the court.

    NWBA: What is your favorite basketball moment?
    Megan: My favorite basketball moment… is very hard to choose… but I’d say one that always makes me smile is thinking about when my Illinois teammate Christina Young’s wheel fell off her wheelchair in the middle of the game and she was twirling around in a circle in the middle of the court.  Our whole team, coach included, couldn’t help but laugh (in a loving way of course:)

    NWBA: Do you have any pets?
    Megan: I have an amazingly sweet dog named Keela.

    NWBA: What is your short term goal?  
    Megan: To graduate with my Masters degree and play at the Paralympics.

    NWBA: What is your long term goal?
    Megan: My long term goals are to be a counselor for kids and adults that are struggling to find happiness in their lives and to be a motivational speaker at grade schools and high schools.

    NWBA: Do you have any social media accounts that fans can follow you on?
    Megan: I have a Facebook account- Megan Blunk

    Cover Photo credit: Joe Kusumoto

    This Week in the NWBA

    02/08/2016, 12:30pm CST
    By NWBA

    Highlights of the upcoming week

    “This Week in the NWBA” will highlight upcoming tournaments on a weekly basis, and the first appearance kicks off on the Valentine's weekend of Feb. 12-14. 

    The heart of the season is upon us with action-packed tournaments taking place across the country each week. The results of these games will set the stage for who competes on the hardcourts at the NWBA National Tournament in Louisville from April 7-10.

    Here is the schedule for the weekend of February 12-14th, 2016:

    Women’s Division:

    *  2016 Dallas Wheelchair Mavericks Tournament-  2/12-14:  Arlington, TX

    College Division:

    *  University of Illinois College Division Tournament- 2/12-13:  Champaign, IL

    Junior Prep & Varsity Division:

    *  Southern Junior Regional Tournament- 2/13-14:  Greensboro, NC

    *  Tournament  of Champions- 2/13-14:  New Lenox, IL

    *  25th Annual Bennett Blazers Junior Wheelchair Invitational Tournament - 2/13-14:  Baltimore, MD

    Where is your team in the most recent rankings release?

    BlazeSports Junior Hawks and Chicago Skyhawks maintain its No. 1 and 2 spots, respectively, in the January Junior Prep Rankings for the second consecutive month. Moving up into the third overall position is the Courage Kenny Rolling Rowdies, who were No. 6 last month. The Junior Bucks, Oklahoma Blaze and Fairfax Falcons dropped one position each to No. 4-6. 

    The middle of the pack witnessed the RHI Mini Pacers jumping up to No. 8 for January, after a No. 13 position in December. The Dallas Junior Mavs improved to No. 10 as well. 

    The LWSRA Hawks moved up three slots into the No. 15 position. The Michigan/Cleveland Prep team made its way into the rankings for the first time this season at No. 24. 

    The 2015-16 NWBA Junior Prep season is in full swing and teams are jockeying to find a top 16 position for an invite to the 2016 NWBA National Tournament in Louisville, Ky., April 7-10. The NWBA is anticipating a full field for NWBA National Tournament for the Junior Prep Division. 

    1. BlazeSports Junior Hawks
    2. Chicago Skyhawks
    3. Courage Kenny Rolling Rowdies
    4. Junior Bucks
    5. Oklahoma Blaze
    6. Fairfax Falcons
    7. Katie's Komets
    8. RHI Mini Pacers
    9. Junior Minutemen
    10. Dallas Jr. Mavs
    11. Mary Free Bed Jr. Pacers
    12. Cincinnati Dragons
    13. ParaSport Spokane
    14. Charlotte Rollin' Hornets
    15. LWSRA Hawks
    16. Turnstone Flyers
    17. Lakeshore Sharks
    18. Synergy Jr. Bulls
    19. New York Rollin' Fury
    20. Bennett Blazers
    21. STRAPS
    22. Nebraska Red Dawgs Jr. Prep
    23. Portland Jr. Wheel Blazers
    24. Michigan / Cleveland Prep
    25. BlazeSports B


    Varsity Division - January Rankings

    02/04/2016, 3:30pm CST
    By NWBA

    Junior Division Rankings updated

    ‚ÄčJanuary 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.

    1. Phoenix Jr. Suns*
    2. Dallas Jr. Mavericks - Blue*
    3. Minnesota Jr. Rolling Wolves*
    4. BlazeSports Jr. Wheelchair Hawks*
    5. Houston TIRR Hotwheels*
    6. Milwaukee Jr. Bucks*
    7. Utah Rush*
    8. Grand Rapid Jr. Pacers
    9. RHI Indy Racers
    10. LWSRA Falcons
    11. Chicago Skyhawks
    12. Rancho Renegades*
    13. Seattle Jr. Sonics
    14. ParaSport Spokane
    15. Turnstone Flyers
    16. Brooklyn Jersey Jr Nets
    17. Peoria Wildcats
    18. Synergy Jr Bulls
    19. Nebraska Red Dawgs
    20. Denver Jr. Nuggets
    21. Lakeshore Lakers
    22. Richmond Sportable Spokes
    23. Katie's Komets- White
    24. Fairfax Falcons
    25. Bennett Blazers
    26. BORP Jr Road Warriors
    27. Mad City Badgers
    28. Minnesota  Jr. Rolling Gophers
    29. Michigan Rollin' Pistons
    30. Rockford Jr. Chariots
    31. Michigan Challengers
    32. Tulsa Jammers
    33. Missouri Express
    34. Charlotte Rolling Hornets
    35. New York Rolling Fury
    36. Portland Jr. Wheel Blazers
    37. Achievement Center Cavaliers
    38. Oklahoma Blaze
    39. Mississippi Wheelcats
    40. San Antonio Stars
    41. The Revolution
    42. GLASA

    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

    Time to submit your application for the Kunishige Memorial Scholarship

    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.

    Vote to recognize your peers and their contributions

    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. 

    Championship Division: January 2016 TOP 20

    01/19/2016, 10:00pm CST
    By NWBA

    Where does your team rank as we get closer to the NWBT?

    1. Dallas 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. OKC Chargers


    Process for amendments to the NWBA Bylaws

    01/14/2016, 8:00am CST
    By NWBA

    Key Dates for proposed Amendments

    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 ( 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)

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    Upcoming Tournaments

    • Feb
    • 12
    2016 Dallas WC Mavericks Tournament
    • Feb
    • 12
    U of I College Division Tournament
    • Feb
    • 13
    2016 Dallas WC Mavericks Tournament
    • Feb
    • 13
    Southern Regional Junior Tournament
    • Feb
    • 13
    Tournament of Champions
    • Feb
    • 13
    U of I College Division Tournament
    • 5:00pm-6:00pm CST Ical_event_icon
    • Champaign, IL
    • Tag(s): Tournaments 
    • Feb
    • 14
    Southern Regional Junior Tournament
    • Feb
    • 14
    Tournament of Champions
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