Abby Dunkin is one of the newest members of the U.S. Women’s wheelchair basketball team. She only started playing wheelchair basketball three years ago, and her first tryout for the National Team was in January 2015. In the short time that she has been playing, Abby has made incredible strides and has proven that she has what it takes to play at the elite level. In her international debut at this past summer’s Parapan Am games, she averaged 55 points per game. She hopes to make the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team.
Name: Abby Dunkin
Date of Birth: November 24, 1995
Place of Birth: Rota, Spain
Hometown: New Braunfels, Tex
Residence: Arlington, Tex
High School: New Braunfels Canyon High School
College: University of Texas, Arlington
Expected date of graduation: Spring 2018
2015 Parapan Am Games, gold medal, Toronto, Canada
Competition Wheelchair: Per4Max
Personal background: Parents are Melissa Kratsas and Steve Dunkin. She has a younger sister, Alex.
Q&A with Abby:
NWBA: Who is your hero?
Abby: My mom. She has been with me from legs to wheels. She has shown me how to overcome adversity.
NWBA: When did you start playing wheelchair basketball?
Abby: I was a junior in high school. Being from a military family, I had access to playing with newly wounded warriors at Fort Sam. I then got invited to play at a practice with the San Antonio Parasport Spurs and fell in love with the game and continued playing it.
NWBA: Do you play any other sports? Did you receive any awards from other sports?
Abby: I was in track in high school. In my senior year at the State meet I won gold in the 400, 100 and shot put. The record still holds today. Then I realized I liked indoor sports better.
NWBA: Would you ever consider wheelchair basketball professionally overseas?
Abby: I have made some contacts. I would consider it. It all depends on where I am at in life when the time comes.
NWBA: Do you have any pre-game rituals or superstitions?
Abby:I try to be as relaxed as possible and I always go over to the half court 10-foot line and say a quick prayer.
NWBA: Why do you play wheelchair basketball?
Abby: I loved basketball since I was little. Wheelchair basketball has given me a different perspective. It has made me fall in love even more with it. Abby Wambach of the U.S. women’s soccer team said “Happiness is only real when shared.” I fell in love with the people, the relationships formed through this game have a lot more meaning than what the game actually is.
NWBA: What was your first Team USA tryout experience like?
Abby: I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. When I got the email from Stephanie (Wheeler, Head Coach), I thought she made a mistake and had the wrong Abby. I didn’t know what the expectations were, what the coaches wanted. No one knew who I was. I only knew three people. Now I know what is expected, what I need to do. I will play my game and we will see what happens.
NWBA: What is your favorite basketball moment?
Abby: The Parapan Am Games - the whole thing from the traveling to when the final buzzer rang and we won the gold against Canada to the celebration afterwards.
NWBA: Were you surprised by your performance at the Parapan Am games?
Abby: Being a rookie, I knew I was going to be 90% on the bench because I need to learn instead of going out and playing. As an athlete, I am never content with performances. I always want to do better. The Parapans taught me: “Hey you can do this.”
NWBA: Do you follow any sports? If so, which are your favorite teams?
Abby: I am a huge San Antonio Spurs fan.
NWBA: Do you have any pets?
Abby: A little 10-month old Yorkie named Gizmo.
NWBA: What are your short term goals?
Abby: I hope to make the 2016 team for Rio. If that were not to happen, I would continue to play and improve my game. At college, I hope my team, the Lady Movin’ Mavs, wins the college national championship.
NWBA: What are your long-term goals?
Abby: To better improve my game for the best of the team whatever that may mean. At school I have taken the physical education rout and would like to eventually coach in a high school or something within adaptive sports.
Cover Photo credit: Joe Kusumoto Photography