University of Texas Arlington, one of the most successful collegiate wheelchair basketball schools, has seen a whole new level of play on their courts this week. The U.S. Women’s National Team takes to the road at UTA Mavericks home courts this past week for one of its last camps prior to the America’s Qualifier in Columbia. UTA has won seven national championships, and nearly every member of their roster year after year is named to the First-Team All-American squad.
Of this reputable roster are U.S. Women’s National Team members Abby Dunkin, Josie Aslakson and Morgan Wood all current UTA Mavericks. I sat down with the three women to discuss having the National Team with multiple Paralympic Gold Medalists on their college home court in front of their teammates and paying right alongside them.
UTA’s rich history of wheelchair basketball success brings a sense of urgency and inspiration to the atmosphere of the auxiliary gym the team is hosting camp at. All three women agree the atmosphere is a lot more excited than usual and a lot of Maverick players, UTA students, faculty and staff were in attendance at practices and scrimmages. Recent Paralympic gold medalist and UTA Senior Abby Dunkin mentioned, “The atmosphere is more intense and exciting but the University is humbled to have Team USA on campus and it motivates a lot of our UTA teammates and gets them excited for what we are doing as a college team as well.”
The winning Culture at UTA transitions nicely into the USA Team Camp. Practice sessions have been run at a high confident level and even with a mix of new and different players everyone is performing at the same level and everyone adjusts to the elite level of play. The confidence illuminates from the players with a home court advantage like fellow UTA Grad Student Morgan Wood. “Playing with the best in the world on my home court gives you this chip on your shoulder and you know you deserve to be there. I am also a lot more comfortable playing in my own gym and in front of everyone I know,” added Wood.
UTA Senior Josie Aslakson added, “There is a lot of pressure playing on your home court, but I was pleasantly surprised to have training camp here on campus and it is nice not to have to travel.” These three young athletes feel humbled that the National Team came to them and they are able to show them the Maverick culture for the week and be one step a head out on their home court with their own rims where they’ve won a multitude of championships.
Training Camp began on Sunday July 9 and will finish on Thursday July 13. Training sessions all week are inclusive of conditioning, shooting practices, weight lifting, scrimmages and team meetings. It is a full week for the National Team but with the help of Maverick favorites Dunkin, Aslakson and Wood all the girls should feel a little more comfortable on the UTA campus.