Abby Dunkin may be one of the youngest ladies on the National team, but one could never tell from her presence and ease out on the court. She is a second degree black belt, former MMA fighter and an international fighter. She has a love for all contact sports, and probably one of the reasons she excels on the hardwood courts. The New Braunfels, Texas-native is the definition of competitive spirit.
She grew up in a military home where she played able-bodied basketball and ran track. She however was challenged physically when she started experiencing chronic pain in her legs that later resulted in a nerve condition. Through a series of medical procedures, the family was hopeful but it only led to landing her in a wheelchair. In and out of hospitals, she never lost her love for basketball and her impeccable shot. The San Antonio Spurs wheelchair basketball team were the first to note how great her shot still was and asked her to join their roster almost immediately.
She currently plays at the University of Texas at Arlington and will be going into her junior year this fall after the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. She is majoring in Kinesiology with a minor in Disability Studies. All the pieces may have fallen together perfectly but Dunkin admits it hasn’t been the easiest transitioning from able-bodied basketball to wheelchair basketball
“The entire experience is new to me, even realizing people in wheelchairs could play. It’s different because it’s all about the angles and not being able to use your hands as much, they remain on your chair. You are just competing way different,” Dunkin said.
She has found her home in wheelchair basketball and calls it her second family. She never realized how close knit the entire organization is and how good the people are that are involved.
Her athletic nature and drive to compete put her as one of the 12 athletes selected for the U.S. Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team that will compete for gold in Rio. This is Dunkin’s first Paralympic Games, and was given a taste of multi-sports events as she was a member of the winning 2015 U.S. Parapan Am Games Team.
Dunkin has a lot of other favorite things outside of wheelchair basketball. She shyly admits she has had an obsession with the king himself, Elvis Presley, since she was little. She listens to all of his music and will occasionally collect Presley memorabilia when on road trips. She also loves guitar and taught herself how to play by watching YouTube videos. Her love for music spans from Ed Sheeran to classic and acoustical sounds.
“Do whatever makes you happy, life is too short to not do what you love,” said Dunkin.
Wise words, from this young athlete who is doing what she loves and what makes her happy everyday. She will be even happier after her and her team go for that gold medal in September when they head to Rio