COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - The National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) Hall of Fame Committee is pleased to announce its newest inductees, the NWBA Hall of Fame Class of 2023, into the NWBA Hall of Fame. The Class of 2023 is comprised of four outstanding individuals: three Competitors and one Contributor. These inductees have had remarkable careers both on and off the court. Please continue reading about their accomplishments within our sport below:
Originally from El Salvador, William Hernandez’s family immigrated to Southern California for improved medical care and job opportunities when Hernandez was six years old. His outgoing personality opened up several opportunities and he was subsequently introduced to adaptive sports at the age of 12, where he excelled in multiple sports. His exceptional wheelchair skills led to several media opportunities, including a few McDonald's commercials and TV shows. Upon learning how to play wheelchair basketball at a young age, Hernandez went on to win four NWBA Varsity National Championships in the Junior Division. He continued his success within the NWBA in the Intercollegiate Division being twice named to the 1st Team All-Tournament and winning three NWBA Intercollegiate National Championships. He was the first student-athlete with a disability to receive a full scholarship at the University of Texas-Arlington (UTA). Later in 2014, he was inducted into the Collegiate Hall of Fame, where his College jersey was retired. Post-college, Hernandez became a member of the most feared NWBA team dynasty ever assembled, Dallas Wheelchair Mavericks. Hernandez helped lead the Mavericks to win 12 National Championships in Division I.
Hernandez has amassed several achievements internationally playing wheelchair basketball. He won a gold medal at the International Club Championships in 1998; a gold medal at the 1999 Para-Pan American Games, in Mexico City; a bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games; and a gold medal at the 2002 International Wheelchair Basketball Association (IWBF) World Championships in Japan. Hernandez was known for his agility and speed on the court throughout his career and later became one of the most consistent mid-range shooters within the NWBA. He was also one of the toughest defenders in the game, taking on the opponents’ best players.
His mechanical engineering background matched with his love of the game led him to co-found PER4MAX Medical, a leading sports wheelchair manufacturing company with a global presence. His positive influence on his teammates, and younger players, and his team spirit have been attributed to Hernandez’s biggest and most important assets.
From Council Bluffs, Iowa, Joshua Turek is known to be one of the most decorated players to have competed at the intercollegiate, international and national team levels. Turek was one of the top scorers in the history of intercollegiate play. In 2002, he became the first athlete with a disability to be named Athlete of the Year by his alma mater, Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU). During Turek’s playing career as an SMSU Mustang, he amassed over 4,000 points scored, an all-time college record that he still holds to this date, and includes both able-bodied and wheelchair basketball teams for SMSU. Turek is a four-time Paralympian, having won a bronze medal in London in 2012 and helping win back-to-back gold medals for the 2016 Rio Paralympics and 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
Turek had a successful professional career playing in Europe in several countries for 18 years, becoming one of the first Americans to pave the way to Europe. His accomplishments in European professional leagues include Copa Italia Champion (2004), three-time Spanish League Champion, three-time Copa del Rey Champion (2010-2013), French Cup Champion (2014), and EuroCup Champion (2019). He won several MVPs and All-Star 5’s during this time in Europe.
Josh’s leadership, professionalism, and deep passion for disability advocacy led him to run for the Iowa House of Representatives in the 2022 Midterm Elections where he became the first elected official using a wheelchair to represent his district and individuals with a disability on a political level.
Perhaps above all, Joshua Turek is known for his humility, work ethic, and dedication to excellence which have become a blueprint for younger generations who wish to follow along his path.
Hailing from Chicago, IL Will Waller had a competitive career within the NWBA lasting over 20 years. Waller is one of the biggest, most dominant, and most consistent players of his time, and was known by friends and teammates as the “hardest working guy on the court".
Waller was a two-time NWBA Intercollegiate Division national champion with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Fighting Illini. Waller was recognized for his leadership of the Fighting Illini serving as team captain during his time. Waller earned a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in human resources while at Illinois.
Following college, Waller won a Division I national championship with the Milwaukee Bucks. As a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Waller helped the team win its only NWBA national championship. Waller’s presence and contributions to the Cavaliers helped elevate them to playing within NWBA Division I.
Waller’s first appearance on a U.S. Paralympic team was during the 2000 Sydney Paralympics, in which the U.S. Men captured a bronze medal. Waller helped Team USA secure gold medals at both the 1998 and 2002 IWBF World Championships, these being the last two World Championship titles that the U.S. Men have won. Waller’s contributions in 2002 were recognized by being named to the All-World Team.
Waller took an absence from Team USA due to health reasons but returned to the team at a high level in 2009. Waller served as the captain for the U.S. Men that won a bronze medal at the 2012 London Paralympics. While being a member of the U.S. Men’s team, Waller helped secure gold medals at the America’s Cup in 1997, 1999, 2001, and 2009.
Following his decorated playing career on the court, Waller has continued to make a positive impact on wheelchair basketball and the NWBA. Waller’s leadership skills and passion for the game led him to join the NWBA Board of Directors in 2016. Waller was hired as the CEO of the NWBA in 2019 and led the organization throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Waller’s dedication to the sport of wheelchair basketball along with his desire to make the sport better has inspired many members of the NWBA to follow along his path.
Jayne Chilutti has provided the NWBA exceptional support for over 30 years of volunteerism, most significantly as a leader within the classification system, which has resulted in her being inducted into the Class of 2023 as a Contributor. Chilutti’s professionalism, passion, and sheer determination to make a difference in the sport have been remarkable. She has had a wide range of administrative roles and responsibilities within the NWBA, much of which is critical to the organization’s operations and efficiency: Developing the NWBA classification database, processing applications of eligibility/classification reviews, developing educational materials for Team Reviewer and Classifier Courses, and managing all aspects of athlete applications submitted to the IWBF. She has spent countless hours orienting and training other classifiers, and leading classification clinics across the country to bring new talent to her profession. She has also been an invaluable resource for coaches, Team USA staff, and the NWBA national office.
Prior to taking on national and international roles as a classifier, she was a team representative for the Philadelphia Magee Spokesmen for over 16 years and co-founded the Katie’s Komets, a Junior Division team in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Chilutti also served as a tournament director for many regional tournaments, helping develop both youth and adult talent in the Philadelphia/East Coast region.
In 2002, Chilutti became the Chairperson of the NWBA Classification Committee, a role she has held for over two decades. Chilutti has led the NWBA’s efforts to switch from a medical to a functional-based classification system.
Chilutti also helped Team USA athletes navigate various changes over the years to the international classification system. In 2005, she officially became an international classifier with the IWBF. In 2010, she was 1 of 10 IWBF Classification Instructors and in 2012, she obtained her classification instructor license, the highest level in the IWBF classification certification. She served as an IWBF Classifier at the 2012 London Paralympic Games. To this date, Jayne Chilutti is one of only two certified U.S. classifiers in IWBF America's region.
Chilutti is one of the most respected and well-known classifiers nationally and globally. She’s a true pioneer and a long-time servant of the NWBA.
The 2023 NWBA Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place on Saturday, April 1, in the Grand Ballroom at the Holiday Inn Wichita East I-35. The Red Carpet Show will be hosted by five-time Paralympian Matt Scott, for the second year in a row, starting at 6:00 pm CT (local time). The Induction Ceremony will begin at 7:00 pm CT. NWBA Hall of Fame Chairperson, David Kiley, Class of 2000, will serve as master of ceremonies for this special celebration. Those in attendance at the 2023 NWBA Adult National Championships are invited and encouraged to attend the ceremony in person. The Induction presentation will also be made available via live stream on the Official Facebook Page of the NWBA Hall of Fame.
The Holiday Inn Wichita East I-35 will also serve as the host hotel for the 2023 NWBA Adult National Championships. More information for booking accommodations at the Holiday Inn can be found on the tournament webpage, here.
If you wish to make a direct contribution to the efforts of the NWBA Hall of Fame Committee in preserving the history and culture of our sport, please click here.