In the early 1990s, Barbara Radbel provided the critical leadership necessary to develop grow and sustain the NWBA Junior Division. As its president for the first decade of the Junior Division growth, she was instrumental for the significant development of new teams, and the overall development of the Prep and Varsity Divisions that allowed all junior wheelchair basketball players a functional, competitive, and fundamental basketball experience.
Radbel’s involvement in wheelchair basketball began as a volunteer basketball mom determined to provide the opportunity for her son David, his basketball peers, and boys and girls like them from all over the country to compete on an organized, competitive level in the sport of wheelchair basketball.
Her presidency became a continuing model of success for the growth of the Junior Division in the image of the NWBA founder Dr. Tim Nugent. As the Junior Division grew, Radbel developed the first Annual Junior Wheelchair Basketball Tournament (NJWBT) in 1993. The NWBA added the fastest growing division to its inventory of marketable programs.
A generation later, thousands of youth with physical disabilities have had the opportunity to play, and excel on and off the court as student-athletes. Radbel’s inclusive vision provided junior prep wheelchair basketball athletes to start play early and continue all the way through high school and beyond. The NWBA’s greatest development is that these junior players are now being recruited by the coaches and teams from the Intercollegiate Division of the NWBA. Today a young wheelchair basketball player can dream of playing basketball in college and pursue a Paralympic Games medal representing the United States at the international level.
In 1993, there were 13 junior teams competing for a NWBA national championship, and now the Junior Division boasts over 80 teams competing. Radbel’s motivation, passion, and work ethic was both contagious and exemplary.
The 2016 NWBA Hall of Fame Induction is set for Saturday, April 9 at the Crowne Plaza in Louisville, Ky., which is held in conjunction with the NWBA National Tournament presented by ABC Medical. Also being inducted in the 2016 NWBA Hall of Fame class is Tropper Johnson, Kathy Curtis, and Mary Anne O’Neill.
For more information on the induction ceremonies, contact Hall of Fame Committee Chairperson Frank T. Burns by clicking here.