Eleven-month old Steve Serio or “Field General” as some might call him on the court, never had a plan to become a three-time U.S. Paralympian and two-time Paralympic medalist (2012 bronze; 2016 gold) in wheelchair basketball. He was just like every other kid, but he just had a spinal-cord injury, and that never even held this bright eyed New Yorker back until he was turned down to play varsity basketball at 15. Even that barrier couldn’t hold back Serio from getting in the game when the opportunity arose. Serio just wanted to make memories with his friends. He joined a wheelchair basketball team five minutes from his hometown of Westbury, New York and the rest was history.
Serio went on to play at the University of Illinois and later began playing professionally in Germany for RSV Lahn-Dill. The Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games was his first taste of the big stage, and just fell short of the podium with a fourth-place finish. Four years later in London Serio was instrumental in the U.S. Men’s Team bronze-medal performance. This taste only spurned the drive for another four-year commitment to work towards the grand award of putting a gold medal around his neck and being on top of the podium at the Rio Paralympics. Mission accomplished. Not yet, Serio is looking for another four-year run to establish Team USA as a dominant team and one for the history books.
His first Paralympic gold medal was one of his greatest feats but not his first taste of winning. He was previously an NWBA National Tournament MVP, a College National Champion and continuous returner to World Championships where he has earned two silver medals and a bronze medal.
Since returning from the Rio Games, Serio was elected by his peers as the NWBA’s Athlete Advisory Council representative for the U.S. Olympic Committee. His most recent accomplishment was winning the ESPY Award for the Best Male Athlete with a Disability at the 2017 ESPYs.
“This is not an award for me but for my entire team. It is a great representation of our sport and how far it has come and where it is headed. It is a great honor to represent all of wheelchair basketball,” Serio said.
Serio hopes to one day inspire young people and others all over the world with his encouraging words of wisdom and insight. He encourages young players to keep growing and get better everyday not only as an athlete but as a person as well. He truly never set out to be the best, that part just came naturally. Serio was always more focused on having fun, enjoying the journey, meeting amazing people and maybe picking up a medal here or there.
“It’s okay to not have a direction, time moves by too fast to make quick decisions, that’s why I slow down and enjoy each day, each moment and each journey,” Serio stated.
Once again, Serio will lead Team USA into Cali, Colombia, for the IWBF America’s Qualifier set for August 21-31, in hopes of qualifying the U.S. Men’s National Team for the 2018 World Championships in Hamburg, Germany.