COLORADO SPRINGS, CO. – The National Wheelchair Basketball Association is proud to release the initial selection of athletes for the 2019 U.S. Women’s National Wheelchair Basketball Team. The initial selection came following the Toyota Team USA Women’s Selection Camp, a three-day camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. This pool of athletes will continue to battle for a roster spot on the 2019 U.S. Women’s National Wheelchair Basketball Team that compete at the 2019 ParaPan American Games from August 23 to September 1 in Lima, Peru.
“We had 33 ladies come out here, tryout and the talent level at this camp has really risen from years past,” said 2019 U.S. Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Head Coach Trooper Johnson of San Lorenzo, CA. “It’s been a great experience. There was a lot of excitement in the camp, a lot of energy, and a lot of great basketball.”
The group of 19 athletes proves to be rich with veteran talent blended with a core of younger elite athletes. The pool includes six members of the iconic U.S. gold medal-winning team from the 2016 Rio Paralympics. The roster also returns 11 athletes from the 2018 IWBF World Championships and five athletes from the most recent Parapan American Games held in Toronto in 2015.
Among the initial selection of athletes are two power players from the gold-medal winning team from the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, Rebecca Murray of Germantown, WI and Natalie Schneider of Ord, NE. Murray and Schneider played together on the 2012 and 2008 Paralympic teams, winning their first Paralympic gold at the 2008 Beijing games. They also played together during the 2011 Parapan American Games where the U.S. Women won gold. The pair secured gold at the 2010 IWBF World Championships in Birmingham, Great Britain.
Megan Blunk of Gig Harbor, WA joins the roster of hopefuls for the first time since 2016 where the U.S. Women’s team captured gold at the Rio Paralympics. Blunk won a gold medal for the U.S. at the 2015 Parapan American Games.
Two-time Paralympian Rose Hollermann of Elysian, MN also made the first cut for the 2019 U.S. Women’s team. Hollerman won gold at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games alongside Abigail Dunkin of New Braunfels, TX. The duo also played together at the 2017 America’s cup and 2015 Parapan Am Games, bringing home the silver in 2017 and a gold medal in 2015.
Darlene Hunter of Commerce, MI has her sight set on joining the U.S. Women’s team for her second Parapan Am Games, first representing the U.S. in 2015 in Toronto. Hunter was a member of the U.S. in 2012 and 2016 at the Paralympic Games, winning gold in 2016.
Courtney Ryan of Chula Vista, CA hopes to represent Team USA once again after her first appearance on the squad in 2014 at the IWBF World Championships.
Morgan Wood of Gordonsville, TN and Kaitlyn Eaton of Houston, TX both enter the pool of athletes after making the U.S. Women’s team in both 2017 and 2018. Wood and Eaton have made it their mission to return to the podium after capturing a silver medal at the 2017 America’s Cup Zonal Qualifier.
Alejandra Ibanez of Salt Lake City, UT; Riley Ljungdahl of Longmont, CO and Bailey Moody of Alpharetta, GA joined Team USA at the 2018 IWBF World Championships. Ibanez and Ljungdahl won silver medals representing the U.S, at the 2017 America’s Cup Zonal Qualifier in Cali, Columbia.
A few athletes in this pool are first-time members of a U.S. national team: Abigail Bauleke of Savage, MN; Angelina “Nina” Welfle of Fort Wayne, IN and Elizabeth Becker of Weddington, NC. Bauleke, a current member of the Minnesota Jr. Rolling Timberwolves in the NWBA’s Junior Division, is one of the youngest members of this year’s pool.
Emily Oberst of Brookfield, Wisconsin, Lindsey Zurbrugg of their Portland, OR; Josie Aslakson of Jordan, MN, and Ixhelt Gonzalez of Chicago, IL are members of the 2017 and 2018 U.S. Women’s team members hungry for their second podium finish at an international event.
The 2019 U.S. Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team will start their final preparations at a Toyota Team USA Training Camp scheduled for April 24-28 at the Olympic Training Center.