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Toyota USA Women's National Wheelchair Basketball Team Visits Toyota Plant in Kentucky

07/11/2019, 10:45am CDT
By Rebekah Markovitz

GEORGETOWN, KENTUCKY- The Toyota USA Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Senior National Team conducted a site visit of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK) yesterday in Georgetown, KY. The TMMK factory is Toyota’s largest vehicle manufacturing plant in the world. 

The site visit began with a meet and greet with TMMK executives including President Susan Elkington, TMMK’s first female president. Susan and other TMMK executives shared their professional careers and enjoyed impromptu discussions with the U.S. Women’s Senior National Team.

Ukari Figgs, a former collegiate and professional women's basketball player and current Pilot Manager for TMMK, shared her story with Team USA. Figgs is a hometown basketball star in Georgetown, KY, capturing a state high school championship (Scott County - 1995), NCAA DI National Championship (Purdue - 1999) and WNBA Champions (Los Angeles Sparks - 2001). 

Many of the players were in awe of Figgs. Bailey Moody said it was cool and inspiring to hear about all of her accomplishments. 

“It was amazing to hear her story. She was asking for our autographs, but I felt like we should be asking for hers,” she said. 

The women also met with leaders of Women’s Influencing and Impacting Toyota (WIIT) and ToyotAbility. WIIT is a group organized by Toyota Team members to cultivate a workplace environment that attracts, retains and promotes women through engagement, education, recognition, and networking. ToyotAbiltiy is also a group organized by Toyota team members, and supports those who have or care for someone with disabilities by furthering education and awareness.

Later, the women were given a tour of the TMMK that showed the stages of how Toyota cars are built from rolls of steel to the final test drive. However, the highlight of the visit was at the end of the day when Team USA interacted with TMMK team members with a basketball skills exhibit, pictures and autographs. 

TMMK team members sat in the players’ wheelchairs and Team USA members taught them how to play wheelchair basketball. Laughs and cheers were shared as some struggled and others made baskets. 

Natalie Schneider said it was a meaningful experience.  

“It was such a great experience. For them to take so much time out of their day to meet with us and show us what they do and what they value at Toyota and for us to have the opportunity to show them what we do was a valuable experience for the whole team,” she said.  

TMMK annually produces approximately 550,000 vehicles and currently has over 10,000 employees. TMMK products are the Lexus ES 350, Camry (sedan/Hybrid), Avalon (sedan/Hybrid) and will soon start production on the RV4 Hybrid. TMMK is also home of the first U.S. built Camry in 1986. 

The tour took place prior to the 2019 Toyota USA Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Kentucky Clash. 

Click here (link 1) and here (link 2) for pictures of the TMMK visit and follow our Instagram story (@nwba) for updates on the Toyota Kentucky Clash. 

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