Shelby Gruss of Ossian Indiana was selected back in February to the 2017 U.S. Women’s National Team. Gruss was selected as a new member of Team USA after the 3-day selection camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Her level of play has been a pleasant surprise to the coaching staff as she has only been playing the sport less than 10 years. Gruss played able-bodied basketball all through high school before she was injured her senior year.
A snowboarding accident over a Christmas vacation when she was 18 left her paralyzed from the waste down. She continued to support her high school team showing up at every game and giving impromptu talks to the ladies. After graduation she went on to play wheelchair basketball at the University of Illinois. She is currently a graduate student at Illinois studying Ag Production.
Just 4 years after her accident she was the captain on the University of Illinois team playing the 1.5 starting position as a junior. She had played basketball since the age of 5 but transitioning into the chair was slightly difficult for Gruss but she admits her passion for the game kept her determined to succeed.
“I’ve always been a really competitive person, and basketball was the love of my life before I got hurt,” Gruss said. “The first year I didn’t play because I was planning on moving away to college out of state. When I decided I wasn’t moving away yet, I played for a home team and fell in love with it. I saw the opportunity to and naturally, decided to pursue a new dream and play at Illinois,” added Gruss.
An inspiring role model to the young player happened to be Paralympic gold medalist and Illinois teammate Gail Gaeng who led the team as captain and showed what it meant to truly give your all and get the best out of every situation. Gruss has big plans of success with Team USA and she is making strides in the 2017 season.