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Women’s Standout Player Mary Ann O’Neill to be Inducted Into National Wheelchair Basketball Hall of Fame

By NWBA, 03/24/16, 12:00AM CDT


Women’s standout player Mary Ann O’Neill, of Minneapolis, Minn., will be inducted as part of the 2016 NWBA Wheelchair Basketball Hall of Fame posthumously on Saturday, April 9, in Louisville, Ky., in conjunction with the 68th National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament presented by ABC Medical. O’Neill, who played for NWBA Hall of Fame coaches Bob Szyman and Terry Hanson, describe her as the pioneer for defining competitiveness and team communication for the women’s game. 

She was a member of the Minnesota Rolling Gophers, who became the first women’s team to win three consecutive National Championships from 1987-89. She is the fourth player from that team to be inducted into the NWBA Hall of Fame, joining: Sue Hagel, Deb Sunderman, and Karen Casper-Robeson. 

She took her tenacious defense beyond the United States and represented Team USA for a decade from 1982-92, winning gold medals at the 1983 Parapan Am Games, the 1988 Seoul Paralympics and the 1990 World Championships. O’Neill was the starting guard on those teams, which was the first to win an international gold medal for the United States. 

Her skills are most notable on the defensive side of the court where she perfected the art of ‘back picking’ the opponent’s bigger and taller players, and preventing them from gaining optimal position. O’Neill’s talent often created a man advantage for her teammates. 

O’Neill would pay it forward by mentoring younger players when she retired as an athlete from the game. She was able to coach young women to develop their basketball skills that would continue to improve the development of the women’s game. She died in December of 2008. 

The 2016 NWBA Hall of Fame Induction is set for Saturday, April 9, at 6 p.m., at the Crowne Plaza Hotel 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 Trooper Johnson, Kathy Curtis, and Barbara Radbel.

For more information on the induction ceremonies, contact Hall of Fame Committee Chairperson Frank T. Burns by clicking here.