Coach Stephanie Wheeler or "Steph" as known to the U.S. women's wheelchair basketball team has transition significantly since winning her last Paralympic gold medal in 2008 in Beijing. A University of Illinois graduate, where she won three national wheelchair basketball championships, Coach Wheeler isn't much for winning any other color besides gold. She made her transition from player to coach in 2009 when she became the head coach of her alma mater trading in her jersey for a whistle to take the hot seat with a group of young athletes. Her international career is highlighted by two Paralympic gold medals, on Parapan American Games gold medal, and multiple MVP awards.
Fast forward roughly six years and Coach Wheeler and her team of 12 unbelievably talented women have their sights set on gold once again, the time at the 2016 Rio de Janerio Paralympics. The team has been preparing since 20113 and is now winding down with just about 100 days until they take the court against the top countries in the world.
When I sat down with Wheeler at the start of the team's first training camp for the summer, she had nothing inspiring things to say about the team's preparation, experience and success. Since the team's selection camp, when they solidified the 11 player roster in January with one more to add, they have been training together about once a month.
"We have a pretty mature group, and over the course of the past three years they have really begun to understand what it takes on an individual level to make it on the national team, and we have come a long way in that area," said Wheeler.
She along with the rest of the coaching staff have high expectations for the ladies when it comes to getting in their own workouts and showing up to training camps prepared, having put in all the necessary work, much like she did as an athlete.
The first few days of training camp at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., brought lots of mixed emotions. Wheeler said the team's overall efforts was phenomenal sharing that their last practice session was "one of the best I'd ever seen," but with the girls anxious to play actual teams it also brought frustration having to continue to play against our own teammates for two whole days at the end of May.
The specific teams the ladies are anxious to play included Canada, Brazil and China as well as Germany and the Netherlands, who they will most likely get to face both this summer at friendly matches and at the Paralympic Games in September. Inching closer and closer to the Paralympics, Wheeler could not be more excited for the team and the gold they once again hope to bring home. Wheeler feels confident going into the September stretch, knowing she has a "cool mix" of players young and old in terms of experience. Christina Schwab will be a key player, going into her fifth Paralympic games. She brings "confidence and leadership" with over 16 years of experience that will truly "bring the team together," according to Wheeler.
Bringing the team together will involve cleaning up specific defensive details, becoming more efficient and allowing the ladies to be flexible and adaptive going into chaotic and possibly uncertain games as Wheeler expressed. Since 2013, this group of athletes transitioned through the quadrennium learning how to play as a team.
"In 2013, we had this awesome core group of girls who were young but didn't really know what they had gotten themselves into, and new they have matured into great athletes who are ready and looking forward with all this potential in front of them," said Wheeler.
As for Wheeler, her transition from player to coach comes with some emotion as well. She said she missed being a "teammate" along with the experience and camaraderie more than anything. She takes her two Paralympic gold medals with a grain of salt saying, "Yes, we won two gold medals but it is specific moments in practices, along with games when things came together, team bonding activities and training camps that I remember and miss the most."
She jokes however that, "Now I don't want to do the training and I am more than happy to sit on the sidelines in Rio and watch the ladies go on this journey." So that she will do, as head coach at her first Paralympic Games, hopeful for her talented team to reach the top of the medal platform as she so did and that they have been dreaming of since 2013.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Adam Lancia has been named head coach of the University of Alabama women's wheelchair basketball team.
Lancia previously coached the ASV-Bonn German First Division team from 2008-11 and the Nova Scotia Flying Wheels first division team in Halifax from 2012-2015. Ha also has played for the Canadian National team since 2001 and has won two gold medals and a silver medal as a player across three Paralympic Games since 2004.
"The timing of this opportunity is tremendous," Lancia said. "From speaking with (assistant coach) Adam Kramer, he can't say enough about the resources and how supportive the university is of our team and Alabama Adapted Athletics."
Dr. Brent Hardin, director of UA Adapted Athletics, has followed Lancia's career since his days as a college player at the University of Illinois, where Lancia helped lead the Illini to a national championship in 2003. He said Lancia's extensive experiences at every level of wheelchair basketball will help UA continue its championship success.
"He is a cerebral teacher in the gym but also a fiery motivator that will hold our team accountable," Hardin said. "I think our student athletes ware really going to enjoy playing for Coach Lancia. We feel he is exactly the right coach for Alabama and we are confident he will help our players realize their full potential."
Lancia takes over for Elisha Williams, who resigned at the end of the 2015-16 season. Williams won a national championship as a player and one as a coach, leading the Crimson Tide to it fourth women's national championship in 2015.
UA we 15-12 overall and 10-10 in conference play last season. The Crimson Tide will welcome seven new players this season. Six of those players have international experience, Lancia said.
"Dynamic" is a term Lancia hopes becomes synonymous with UA's play, a goal he hopes to reach by simulating the "chaotic" nature of wheelchair basketball in training. "We're going from a good team last year to a deep, dynamic team next season. We'll be able to throw many different looks at our competition."
"When Brent asked me what my offensive and defensive philosophies are, I told him 'my offensive strategy is to frustrate defenses, and my defensive strategy is to frustrate offenses,'" Lancia said "I want my players to do whatever they can to make other teams work. We want to effectively counter what any team throws at us. There's going to be fast play in transition, 3-point shooting, smaller lineups to counter taller, slower teams."
"We're going use that dynamic approach in how we train and organize practices. The game is chaotic, a mess, just crazy times, and practice has to replicate that to an extent."
Realizing the financial burdens that exist for many of these families, we've developed the 180 Medical Scholarship Program to honor these young adults who pursue goals of higher education.
Click HERE to learn more about this scholarship opportunity.
The National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) today announced Ultimate Workout and Recovery as an official sponsor of the NWBA. Ultimate Workout and Recovery/Stuck in Bed Fitness LLC, is a state-of-the-art rehab and workout gym designed specifically for those with physical disabilities. As such, Ultimate Workout and Recovery is also the official wheelchair gym of the NWBA.
The NWBA will serve as an official distributor of the Ultimate Work and Recovery line of products including the full-size Spider unit that comes equipped with the smaller travel size Viper Edition. The NWBA will market the Spider and Viper products to members through www.nwba.org, e-mail messages, and the NWBA E-Newsletter.
The Spider Edition offers ways to maintain strength both physically and mentally, as well as improve an overall sense of well being. The mission of Ultimate Workout and Recovery is to provide a total body workout via exercises and rehab in dozens of unique and exciting ways, especially for those unable or just not wanting to go out. The Ultimate Workout and Recovery gym is a 100-use system that is the perfect option to exercise regularly right from their recliner, wheelchair or bed, while the travel viper system is perfect for on the go strength and cardio conditioning anywhere anytime for anyone.
“This is such an honor and the NWBA is a perfect match for what we are all about,” said Joseph M Salamon, CEO and Chief Marketing Strategist at Stuck in Bed Fitness LLC. “Our fitness and complete exercise system is geared specifically for wheelchair users, whether short or long term. Everyone in the family can benefit from this new fitness equipment including moms, kids and seniors as well. We feel that our arrangement with the NWBA will allow their players and family members of any age or stage to stay in tip-top condition and get stronger whenever they would like to, and inspire others to join teams and develop further while expanding the NWBA and Stuck in bed fitness LLC reach.''
Dr. Michael Roizen, world renowned Wellness Chief at the Cleveland Clinic, and former New England Patriot linebacker Pierre Woods have each enthusiastically endorsed the Spider unit and smaller travel size mobile Viper edition which can be enjoyed from the bus, car, plane, train, hotel room and more. The Stuck in Bed Fitness LLC team is also proud to announce its new Foundation set up for other Foundations/Rehab Clinic Centers to bulk purchase the units at a special discounted. For more information on the Ultimate Workout and Recovery products visit: www.facebook.com/sibfsllc.
“We are excited about the addition of Ultimate Workout and Recovery as a sponsor of the NWBA and for our members to purchase the Ultimate Workout and Recovery Spider unit. It is an excellent workout system for our athletes that can be set-up for off-season and in-season workouts,” said Jim Scherr, NWBA Executive Director.
On Wednesday, the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games draw for men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball happened. The U.S. men’s and women’s teams got drawn into Pool B, while the defending World and Paralympic champions will face each other in pool play in each of the divisions.
In the men's tournament, World champions Australia will face defending Paralympic Gold medalists Canada in a tough Group A that also includes Spain, Turkey, the Netherlands and Japan.
Team USA drew into Group B and will face-off with host country Brazil, European champions Great Britain, Germany, Iran and Algeria.
In the women's tournament, world champions Canada will face defending Paralympic Gold medalists Germany in Group A, as well as Brazil, Great Britain and Argentina.
Group B features three respective zone champions, led by Team USA, the 2015 Parapan Am Games champions, European champions Netherlands, Asia Oceania champions China. France and Algeria are also in Group B.
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games wheelchair basketball competition
Group A: Canada; Germany; Great Britain; Argentina; Brazil
Group B: USA; Netherlands; France; China; Algeria
Group A: Australia; Canada; Turkey; Netherlands; Japan; Spain
Group B: Iran; USA; Great Britain; Germany; Algeria; Brazil
Click the link below for additional information on the Dave Kiley 3-on-3 Invitational and Free Throw Contest. This year's event will be the 26th Annual Extravaganza in conjunction with Turning POINT.
The annual event held in Dallas, Texas is held in memory of Randy Snow. Event dates are June 3-4, 2016.
Championship Division Final Top Twenty Ranks 2016:
1. Dallas Mavericks
2. Milwaukee Bucks “A”
3. New York Rollin’ Knicks
4. Rogue Valley Scorpions
5. Bay City Thunder
6. University of Arizona Wildcats (Men’s)
7. Austin Rec’ers
8. San Diego Wolfpack
9. Utah Wheelin’ Jazz
10. Sacramento Rollin’ Kings
11. Miami Heat Wheels
12. Mary Free Bed Pacers
13. Golden State Road Warriors
14. Charlottesville Cardinals
15. Albuquerque Kings
16. Seattle Sonics
17. RIC Hornets
18. Shepherd Stealers
19. Minnesota Timberwolves
20. Milwaukee Bucks “B”
Below are the results from the recent poll regarding which division is the most closely followed. Congratulations to the VARSITY DIVISION!
13% Prep Division
30% Varsity Division
12% Collegiate Division
29% Division III
14% Championship Division
2% Women's Division