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Junior Division Executive Committee Update

06/07/2017, 6:00pm CDT
By NWBA Junior Division Executive Committee

During the 2017 National Wheelchair Basketball Association Annual Assembly, longtime Junior Division President Doug Arambula was elected to the NWBA Board of Directors. Armabula served as the President of the Junior Division for the past 15 years. The Junior Division Executive Committee congratulates Armabula on his new position within the NWBA and appreciates his many years of service to Junior Division. 

With the vacancy at President, Junior Division Commissioner Mike Bauler has appointed 1st Vice President Chris Rathje to the role of President for an interim one year term. Rathje has served in the role of 1st Vice President since June 2014, while previously providing support to the Junior Division as the Educational Liaison in 2013 and 2014.

Rathje started his adaptive athletics career in the third grade as a member of the Windy City Warriors in suburban Chicago. In 1993 Rathje was one of the seven original members of the prep team the Junior Wheelchair Bulls when the Wheelchair Bulls, WDSRA, NEDSRA and NWSRA collaborated to form the first prep team in the state of Illinois so athletes of the Windy City Warriors would have a chance to play basketball..

When it was time to play varsity competition Chris went on to play for the RIC Spalding Bulldogs which was the precursor to the Chicago Skyhawks. Chris played four years in the College Division at the University of Illinois, and while at Northwestern University he played wheelchair rugby. Upon finishing his Masters Degree he moved to Birmingham, Alabama where he played wheelchair rugby with the Lakeshore Demolition and participated in field events.

In 2012, Chris returned to the wheelchair basketball community to coach the Windy City Warriors alongside his college roommate, and current Auburn head coach, Robb Taylor.

“When I was playing juniors I would have never guessed in a million years that I would end up in this position," said Rathje.  "I am very grateful to be the first former player to be president of the division. I hope other junior players become further involved in leadership roles as they advance. It would be amazing if someone playing in the division right now goes on to be president.”

With a vacancy on the Junior Division Executive Committee, Commissioner Mike Bauler has appointed Lisa Elliston to serve in the role of Vice President.  Lisa has been involved with the Junior Division for almost a decade and the Junior Division Executive Committee is very excited to invite Lisa to the team.

Lisa’s involvement in wheelchair basketball began when her son Jonathan started to play as an eight year-old prep player for the Music City program based out of Nashville.  When the Elliston family moved from Nashville to Jackson, Mississippi, Lisa and her husband Dave quickly got to work to establish a new team in Mississippi so Jonathan would not miss out on a season of participation. The Mississippi Wheelcats are now a team in the Varsity Division who has made it to National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament in back-to-back seasons as participants in the National Invitational Tournament. Lisa and Dave continue to help administrate and coach the Wheelcats when possible.

Last year the Elliston family moved to the Dallas Fort Worth area where Jonathan competes as a member of the Dallas Junior Mavericks in wheelchair basketball as well as compete for his high school, Timber Creek, in wheelchair track and field.

Lisa brings 25 years of experience in the radio and television industry to the Junior Division Executive Committee.  The Junior Division Executive Committee is very thankful to bring an enthusiastic communicator like Lisa into the fold.

Both Elliston and Rathje will serve one year interim terms in their newly appointed positions. They will be up for election via the delegation of the Junior Division in 2018.

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