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NWBA Athlete of the Week - Mackenzie Soldan

02/03/2016, 12:00am CST
By NWBA

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

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

Career Highlights: 
Wheelchair Basketball:

2015 Parapan American - gold medal; 2015 Collegiate National Championship; 2011 U25 - gold medal; 2011 Collegiate National Championship

Tennis:
2012 Paralympic Games; 2011 Parapan American – gold medal

Personal background-
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

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