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    Liam Frobisher: “Find Diamonds in the Coal”

    01/28/2020, 11:15am CST
    By Chris Rathje

    “My favorite diamond of all is wheelchair basketball.”

    Liam Frobisher is a 15-year-old who is in the 10th grade. He is in his third year of participation in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association with the Portland Junior Wheelblazers.

    While researching this article, Liam’s mother, Sarah, provided a transcript of a speech that Liam gave to the Dream Factory, an organization that provided him assistance. 

    As Liam was first adapting to his new life as a wheelchair user, he met a man named Bill. Bill is a cancer survivor who was helping to modify Liam’s home to make it more accessible. Bill told Liam that sometimes life’s situations feel like coal, but Bill challenged Liam to find the diamonds.  

    Throughout his speech, Liam listed the many diamonds in his life including many specific ways that his family and friends have helped during the last few years as he has transitioned to living life as a wheelchair user. He concluded his sentiments to the Dream Factory audience with this:

    “My favorite diamond of all: wheelchair basketball.” 

    When asked about his NWBA experience this is how Liam replied:

    “I was paralyzed in November 2016 and joined the Jr. Wheelblazers in January 2017. I went to the first practice just two or three weeks after coming home from the hospital. This is my third official season with the team. I started on the prep team in January 2017 since it was all so new. The next season 2017-2018 I was rostered on Prep and Varsity, but mainly played Varsity.  Because I started playing so close to the prep cut off age I had to learn the sport quickly.” 

    Liam also loves music.  So I asked him if he felt music and wheelchair basketball were connected:

    “For me, the biggest connection between music and basketball is the practice and dedication required to improve. My lungs get a good workout in both basketball and band," Liam said.   

    This is what Liam responded when I asked him about his favorite music:

    "I like to listen to Hip-Hop and Rap to get me motivated. One of my favorite artists is Tupac. His music is so real and it reminds me to look for the positive in life, and use the negative as fuel to get through rough times."

    When asked what Liam liked most about wheelchair basketball:

    “I enjoy the teamwork and the competition.”

    Such a straightforward and great answer that gets to the essence of why so many pour so much into the NWBA.  Thank you Liam and Sarah for allowing us to put the spotlight on them this month.  Liam is another example of the diverse different ways that children and young adults become part of the NWBA.  Thank you Liam for your perspective and story!

    "Around the NWBA" - Junior Division Tournaments

    01/27/2020, 4:45pm CST
    By Rebekah Markovitz

    The Junior Division saw lots of action on the court this past weekend hosting three tournaments.

    The Junior Division saw lots of action on the court this past weekend hosting three tournaments. The three tournaments include: the 2020 Junior Division Regional Qualifier, the BlazeSports Big Peach Slam Jam, and the 22nd Annual Katie Kirlin Junior Wheelchair Basketball Tournament. 

    2020 Junior Division Regional Qualifier

    Six Prep teams and seven Varsity teams participated in the Junior Division Regional Qualifier hosted by Turnstone. The seven varsity teams fought for a qualifying spot at the NWBA Toyota Varsity National Championships. Teams that qualified will be specified in January's Junior Division Power Rankings announcement to be released before the end of the month. 

    The results are as follows: 

    2019-20 NWBA Junior Division Annual Awards

    01/24/2020, 4:45pm CST
    By NWBA Team

    COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - The NWBA Junior Division Executive Committee is pleased to announce that they are accepting nomination forms for the 2019-20 NWBA Junior Division Annual Awards. All award recipients will be announced at the 2020 NWBA Junior Division Annual Banquet at the NWBA Toyota Adult and Junior Wheelchair Basketball National Championships on Saturday, March 14. Recipients of an award do not need to be present to receive the award. Please read the awards descriptions and nomination forms to understand the premise and requirements of each award.

    The award descriptions are listed below, but they can be found with the nomination forms here or by visiting

    Courage Center Award of Merit for Outstanding Leadership in Developing the Junior Division

    Every year the Junior Division will honor the Courage Center by presenting the Courage Center Award of Merit for Outstanding Leadership in Developing the Junior Division to an organization that embodies the characteristics of the Courage Center. This award is named after an organization that has truly been a leader in developing the sport, the division, and its athletes and coaches.

    Dave Ruback Legacy Award

    Every year the Junior Division will honor the memory of Dave Ruback by presenting the Dave Ruback Legacy Award to an individual that best exemplifies the way Dave Ruback served the Junior Division. This award is designed to honor parents of NWBA Junior Division athletes who go “above and beyond the norm” for the betterment of the Junior Division.

    Dr. Robert Szyman Leadership Award

    For all that Dr. Robert Szyman has accomplished throughout the years, it is the successful application of his vision and leadership through his service as the Commissioner of the Junior Division for 22 years that we honor with the annual presentation of the Dr. Robert Szyman Leadership Award. This award is an effort to recognize those who continue Bob’s work, those who help shape and grow the Junior Division, help develop the athletes and coaches that will take this organization and this sport well into the 21st century.

    Ed Owen Coach of the Year Award

    With over 50 years of contributions to the NWBA , each year the Junior Division will honor Ed Owen by presenting the Ed Owen Coach of the Year Award to the coach who embodies the legacy of dedication to teaching and learning, leadership and vision of Ed Owen. This award is designed to honor a coach who embodies the teaching qualities and coaching spirit of the legendary Ed Owen and meets the criteria for the Ed Owen Coach of the Year Award.

    In order to nominate a person or organization for an award, simply fill out the corresponding nomination form and return it to the Junior Division Executive Committee Secretary, Adam Lindsay ( no later than Saturday, February 8.

    The Junior Division Executive Committee will review the nomination forms and vote for the recipient of each award.

    The NWBA is accepting 2020 Hall of Fame nominations now through February 27th.

    The NWBA Hall of Fame is now accepting nominations for the 2020 NWBA Hall of Fame induction. The NWBA Hall of Fame is for competitors and non-competitors who made a significant contribution to the growth and playing of the sport of wheelchair basketball.

    Hall of Fame criteria and selection process is defined on the NWBA Hall of Fame website by clicking 
    here or by visiting

    To nominate a person for the Hall of Fame, please complete the 'Hall of Fame Nomination Form' by clicking
    here. Please complete the form with detailed and substantiated information about the nominee(s), and their contributions to wheelchair basketball. The NWBA Hall of Fame Committee would appreciate stats, articles, and other information.

    Please complete the form, along with three Letters of Support for the Nominee (in Word format) that verify and personalize the nominees’ unique qualifications. All nominations must be submitted by Thursday, February 27 at midnight to:

    Melvin Juette, Interim Chair of NWBA Hall of Fame Committee


    Address: 11802 N McMillin Road

    Whitewater, WI 53190

    Nomination to the NWBA Hall of Fame does NOT guarantee selection and Induction. Each nominee’s qualifications are carefully examined and evaluated. It is not unusual for nominees to be on the ballot for several years before selection. 

    WICHITA, KANSAS – The NWBA and Visit Wichita have launched the Volunteer Registration process for the 2020 NWBA Toyota Adult and Junior Wheelchair Basketball National Championships. The 2020 NWBA Adult and Junior Wheelchair Basketball National Championships is set for Wichita Hoops in Wichita, Kansas, from March 11-15.

    “This is a great opportunity for individuals to gain experience in working with the largest wheelchair basketball tournament in the world,” says Tournament Director Rob Egan. “We are so excited for the members of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association to visit Wichita, and thrilled that Wichita will have unprecedented access to the sport. It is critical that Wichita provides a warm welcome to the wheelchair basketball community. Please join us in volunteering for the National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament. We need your help!”

    The NWBA and Visit Wichita are recruiting for the following positions to volunteer throughout the tournament: Shot Clock; Timekeeper; Scorekeeper; Event Setup; Event Breakdown; Water Service; Registration/Will Call Assistant; Statistician; Store Assistant; and Greeters/Unloaders. Previous experience is preferred if you want to act as a volunteer table official serving in the roles of Timekeeper, Scorekeeper or Shot Clock Operator. The only other restriction is volunteer table officials must be 18 years of age or older. (Omitted No other restrictions…) If you’re interested in volunteering, please sign up for a slot at the following link:

    Please contact Rob Egan at with questions or concerns.

    16 athletes will continue to compete for a roster spot U.S. Women's National Team

    COLORADO SPRINGS, CO. – The National Wheelchair Basketball Association is proud to announce that 16 athletes will remain in consideration for a roster spot on the 2020 U.S. Women’s National Wheelchair Basketball Team. This announcement comes at the conclusion of the Toyota Team USA Women’s Selection Camp, a three-day camp at the Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. The sixteen athletes will continue to battle for a roster spot on the 2020 U.S. Women’s National Wheelchair Basketball Team that compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games from August 25 to September 6 in Tokyo, Japan. 

    “It was a great camp. The athletes came more prepared than we expected, and they made our job tough,” said 2019 U.S. Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Head Coach Trooper Johnson of San Lorenzo, CA.

    The group of 16 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 all 12 athletes from the silver medal 2019 Parapan American Games team.

    1. Josie Aslakson

    2. Abigail Bauleke

    3. Elizabeth Becker 

    4. Megan Blunk

    5. Abigail Dunkin

    6. Kaitlyn Eaton

    7. Ixhelt Gonzalez

    8. Shelby Gruss

    9. Rose Hollermann

    10. Darlene Hunter

    11. Alejandra Ibanez

    12. Bailey Moody

    13. Rebecca Murray

    14. Courtney Ryan

    15. Natalie Schneider

    16. Lindsey Zurbrugg

    Among the 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 and the 2019 Parapan American Games where the U.S. Women won silver. 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 as a returning member from the 2019 silver medal Parapan American Games team and the 2016 gold medal Rio Paralympic Games team. Blunk also won a gold medal for the U.S. at the 2015 Parapan American Games.

    Two-time Paralympian Rose Hollermann of Elysian, MN continues her quest for a spot on the 2020 U.S. Women’s team. Hollerman won gold at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games alongside Abigail Dunkin of New Braunfels, TX.  Hollermann and Dunkin recently took home gold medals from the 2019 U25 IWBF World Championships. The duo also played together at the 2017 America’s cup, 2015 Parapan American Games, and 2019 Parapan American Games bringing home silver in 2017, a gold in 2015 and silver in 2019. 

    Darlene Hunter of Commerce, MI has her sight set on joining the U.S. Women’s team for her third Paralympic Games, first representing the U.S. at the London 2012 Paralympics. Hunter was a member of the gold winning team at the 2016 Rio Paralympic games, the 2011 Parapan American Games, the 2015 Parapan American Games, and the 2010 IWBF World Championships. 

    Courtney Ryan of Chula Vista, CA hopes to represent Team USA once again after winning silver on the 2019 Parapan American Games team. Ryan’s first appearance on the squad was in 2014 at the IWBF World Championships.

    Kaitlyn Eaton of Houston, TX enters the pool of athletes after making the U.S. Women’s team for the last three years. Eaton hopes 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 and Shelby Gruss of Ossian, Indiana joined Team USA at the 2017 America’s Cup where they took home a silver medal. Bailey Moody of Alpharetta, GA joined Team USA a year later at the 2018 IWBF World Championships. Both Ibanez and Moody recently won a gold medal representing the U.S at the 2019 U25 IWBF World Championships and a silver medal representing the U.S at the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru. 

    Lindsey Zurbrugg of their Portland, OR and Josie Aslakson of Jordan, MN, were members of the silver medal 2017 America’s Cup team. Ixhelt Gonzalez of Chicago, IL joined Zurbrugg and Aslakson representing Team USA at the 2018 IWBF World Championships and the 2019 U25 IWBF World Championships, winning gold at the later.  

    The first appearance on the national stage for Abigail Bauleke of Savage, MN and Elizabeth Becker of Weddington, NC was the 2019 U25 IWBF World Championships. 

    The 2020 U.S. Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team will select the final roster for the 2020 Paralympic games at the next Toyota Team USA Selection Camp scheduled for February 6-9 at the Olympic and Paralympic Training Center.

    The NWBA Launches Frank T. Burns Heritage Fund

    01/17/2020, 5:15pm CST
    By NWBA Team

    A fund to capture, preserve, and display wheelchair basketball and NWBA history.

    In honor of Frank Burn’s contribution to wheelchair basketball, the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) is proud to announce the Frank T. Burns Heritage Fund.

    This restricted Fund will be dedicated to projects that help do the following:

    • Capture wheelchair basketball and NWBA history
    • Preserve wheelchair basketball and NWBA history
    • Display wheelchair basketball and NWBA history 

    December's NWBA Toyota Team of the Month Winner

    01/14/2020, 2:00pm CST
    By NWBA Team

    COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO – The National Wheelchair Basketball Association is honored to announce the NWBA Toyota Team of the Month for December. December's voting pole was the closest yet with only one percent of the votes standing between the Portland Wheelblazers - Junior Varsity and the Bennett Blazers - Junior Prep. The winning team is the Bennett Blazers - Junior Prep!

    Congratulations to the Bennett Blazers. The Blazers currently have an impressive 9-0 record and James Pollard leads the team in scoring and in most statistical categories. The Blazers have demonstrated good sportsmanship during competition. At the Fairfax Tournament, the team squeezed in a 15 minute scrimmage to help three Sportable Spoke young athletes who had to play at the varsity level. David Ramos, one of the team captains, played on the Spokes team and helped distribute the ball to get all Spokes players involved.

    NWBA Toyota Team of the Month winners will receive a “Team of the Month” plaque. Nominees will receive a certificate. 

    The NWBA thanks all athletes, coaches, and supporters for participating in December’s Toyota Team of the Month award. 

    January’s Toyota Team of the Month nominations are due at 12:00 pm MST on Monday, February 3. To nominate a team, fill out the form below and send it to

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