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    Looking to Leave Behind a Legacy

    04/03/2020, 11:00am CDT
    By Sydney Pierre

    High school senior Ben Thornton committed to the University of Arizona.

    High school senior Ben Thornton committed to play wheelchair basketball for the University of Arizona, but his career all started with a recommendation and the BORP Jr. Warriors.

    Thornton got involved with wheelchair basketball at a young age when his physical therapist recommended that he look into adaptive sports. As a shy kid, he was not sure what to expect, but by the time he was 11, Thornton was already getting involved with varsity team practices. “It just changed my life from there,” said Thornton. “Thinking back on it, I should have [joined earlier], just because of all the people I’ve met...it’s just amazing.” 

    The Warriors are a varsity team based out of the Bay Area in Berkley, California and have gone 8-6 this season. While they had a shaky season last year due to the loss of some key players, they’ve since bounced back, most recently placing second in the West Coast Conference Championship against ten other teams in their conference. 

    The team’s most exciting moment came when they placed second place in Phoenix Wheelchair Basketball Invitational towards the end of the January. Coming off a successful season and then losing key players proved to be a struggle for the team, who wasn’t used to seeing so many losses. Their success in Phoenix served as a highlight of the season and proof that they could still compete at that high of a caliber. “It was really eye opening and we were really excited. We were really proud of what we [had] done,” said Thornton regarding their championship win. 

    Thornton wants to set an example for the younger players on his team so that they can become strong leaders in the future. “They're the future of the program and just teaching them what's right, what's wrong, you know, not just on the court, but off the court as well,” said Thornton.

    Thornton himself looks up to the adaptive athletes he watched in the last Paralympics, studying them intensely to improve his own game. He also travels down to LA every summer with some of his teammates to watch the Angel City Games, an adaptive sports festival featuring nine different sports competitions and clinics.  He enjoyed watching and learning from members of the US Wheelchair basketball team while he was there. “Getting to interact with people there and learning about different sports is really cool,” said Thornton. 

    Thornton emphasized the advice and leadership that he learned from playing wheelchair basketball and watching professional athletes: “Even if you fail, you can still try again and you'll succeed the next time. I think that's the key for growing as an athlete when you're young, just to not, not never stop, never give up. Just keep training, working hard, and eventually you'll reach the top.” 

    Athlete Spotlight: Matt Schultz

    03/30/2020, 10:00am CDT
    By Chris Rathje

    "I like the fact that you have to play together, and learn to rely, and trust someone else and together, get the job done."

    Matt is a senior who finished his final season as a Nebraska Red Dawg. Matt’s other athletic pursuits include competing for his high school in wheelchair track and field.  Matt competes for Southeast Polk High School where he throws shot put and competes in 200-meter, 400-meter and 800-meter races.

    Outside of sports, Matt has many interests including working on classic muscle cars and training service dogs with an organization called the Puppy Jake Foundation. 

    Matt lives with his family in Des Moines, Iowa, so it means a large commitment to him and his family to go to Omaha every Saturday.  When I asked Matt about how traveling to Omaha and being part of the Red Dawgs has changed his life, this is how he responded:  

    “Every Saturday during the season, I travel roughly 2 and a half hours every Saturday morning. This has changed my life as I feel like a new person, who is outgoing and more friendly towards others.  Mom made a deal with me that if I wanted to play wheelchair basketball and she was giving up her Saturdays, I would bring home good grades.  My last GPA was 3.5.  We both have kept our share of the deal.  I am a better student and a well rounded athlete." 

    When I asked Matt if he had anything he would like to share, here was his piece of advice:

    “Don’t give up, each challenge is just a stepping stone.”

    Matt’s wheelchair basketball career isn’t over yet. He will be attending the University of Nebraska Omaha next year. “Having an opportunity to play at the higher level means so much to me. It represents the hard work that I have put in both on the court and in the classroom,” Schultz said.

    When I asked the future athletic training major what his favorite aspect of wheelchair basketball is Matt told me, “I like the fact that you have to play together, and learn to rely, and trust someone else and together, get the job done.”

    Thank you for your great perspective Matt. Thank you to Matt Schultz and his family for allowing me to write about him.  The NWBA Junior Division appreciates being part of your journey.

    Recognizing Excellence: University of Texas at Arlington Men

    03/27/2020, 4:00pm CDT
    By Intercollegiate Division Executive Committee

    The University of Texas at Arlington Men's Team finished the season with a record of 22-1.

    COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - The Intercollegiate Division of the NWBA congratulates the University of Texas at Arlington’s Movin' Mavericks of the Intercollegiate Men's Division for completion of an excellent 2019-20 season.

    The 2020 Toyota Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball National Championships were cancelled due to national safety priorities associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. This cancellation resulted in no national championship being awarded for the 2019-20 NWBA season.

    The University of Texas at Arlington Movin' Mavericks of the Intercollegiate Men's Division completed the 2019-2020 regular season with an overall record of 22 wins and only one loss. The team was undefeated in Intercollegiate Division games with a record of 14 wins and no losses. This was the best among men’s  teams in the Intercollegiate Division.

    Recognizing Excellence: University of Alabama Women

    03/27/2020, 3:00pm CDT
    By Intercollegiate Division Executive Committee

    The University of Alabama Women's Team finished with a record of 29-1.

    COLORADO SPIRNGS, CO - The Intercollegiate Division of the NWBA congratulates the University of Alabama’s Women of the Intercollegiate Women's Division for completion of an excellent 2019-20 NWBA season.

    The 2020 Toyota Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball National Championships were cancelled due to national safety priorities associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. This cancellation resulted in no national championship being awarded for the 2019-20 NWBA season.

    The University of Alabama’s Women of the Intercollegiate Women's Division completed the 2019-2020 regular season with an overall record of 29 wins and only one loss. The team’s record in Intercollegiate Division games of 9 wins and one loss was the best among women’s teams in the Intercollegiate Division.

    Tracy Chynoweth

    COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - The NWBA and Intercollegiate Division Executive Committee are proud to announce the class of 2020 for the National Wheelchair Basketball Association Intercollegiate Division Hall of Fame. The 2020 Intercollegiate Division HOF inductee is an individual, who made an impact on numerous lives and the game itself during their involvement in wheelchair basketball in the Intercollegiate Division. This year’s inductee is: Tracy Chynoweth

    Coach:

    Tracy Chynoweth, University of Wisconsin - Whitewater

    Chynoweth, from Cottage Grove, WI, graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science in Sports Medicine. He then went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Sports Administration while filling a two-year Graduate Assistant Position at Ball State University under the leadership of Dan Byrnes. Byrnes, an NWBA Hall of Fame Coach, was serving as Head Coach of the USA Men’s National Team at the time as well as coaching the Indianapolis Racers and introduced Chynoweth to the sport. Soon after graduating from BSU in May 1998, Chynoweth began a long coaching tenure with the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. During his time as a coach in the Intercollegiate Division of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association from 1998 to 2008, Chynoweth’s teams won five national championships, (1999, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2007) turning UW-Whitewater into a powerhouse program. His coaching prowess at the intercollegiate level was felt throughout the NWBA, leading Frank Brasile to invite him to join the staff of the USA Women’s National Team Coaching staff in 2000.  Chynoweth served as Assistant Coach for the US Women 2000-2002, USA Junior National Team in 2001 and 2005, and the USA Men’s National Team in 2007-2008. His international coaching career culminated in Beijing in 2008 after leading teams to several international medals including Gold at the 2005 Junior World Championships.

    Not only did Tracy make a lasting impact on the court, but he touched people's lives as well. Chynoweth had the unique ability to "connect a group of individuals that otherwise were not connected and create a network of support and friendship that [would] last a lifetime." These tight knit teams supported Tracy so much so that "his former athletes would return and come to 6:00 a.m. practice to share the knowledge that Tracy had taught them and pass along what they had learned." Coach Chynoweth's lessons are still being used to this day, and his former players are "continually using the [life] lessons from Tracy."  He now resides in the Madison, WI area with his wife and three sons.  Tracy Chynoweth was a great coach, but even better man. His impact will be felt for years to come.

    Members, Friends and Fans:

    Just today, the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government announced the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Making a Paralympic Team and representing your country in competition is the highest accomplishment that an NWBA Member can achieve on the court. Will Waller, NWBA CEO, said: “We’ve seen our athletes and staff train and prepare for this moment for years, and we want to thank them for their immeasurable sacrifice to our program and our association. When they compete, they represent all of us, they represent all of USA.”

    The NWBA is committed to work with the USOPC on a plan that gives our program the best opportunity for success and our athletes the support they need throughout. Andrew Parsons, President of the International Paralympic Committee shared: “…the Games will be held at a date beyond 2020 but not later than the summer of 2021.” The IOC statement revealed that: “the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.”

    Athletes, staff, family and fans will have many questions on the impact of this decision to postpone. The NWBA will work closely with all parties involved to ensure that our voice, and that of our athletes, continues to be included in the process. We will share more information as it becomes available.

    Until then, please continue to adhere to guidance from your local lawmakers and public health professionals to ensure the safety of yourself and your loved ones.

    Growing as a Leader

    03/20/2020, 4:45pm CDT
    By Sydney Pierre

    Mack Reed's leadership role grows with the DASA Rolling Rams

    Mackinley “Mack” Reed is 16 years old and maintains a strong leadership role on his team, the DASA Rolling Rams, who are based out of St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams have been through significant changes over the eight years Reed has been a part of the team.

    Reed started playing wheelchair basketball when he was younger and has been a long standing member of the Rams. After trying out numerous wheelchair sports, one of his track teammates convinced him to give wheelchair basketball a try. Outside of basketball, Reed is the place holder for his high school football team, the Kirkwood Pioneers, and stays busy during his junior year of high school with plenty of homework. Reed noted that playing wheelchair basketball helped him with his time management, due to “having to juggle with basketball, school, and just everyday life.” 

    After losing their program's top player, Nathan Rainge (he graduated in 2017 and plays for The University of Nebraska-Omaha), Reed and the Rams had some doubts about the team’s ability without Rainge. “He was kind of our main guy, who pretty much carried us, and we didn't know how we were going to do,” said Reed. After proving doubters wrong and going 13-9 this past season, the Rams have gotten over the hump. “We want to win and just prove ourselves to doubters, and anyone who's kind of seen us and thought that we 're gonna plunge...after Nate left,” said Reed, adding that “I feel like we truly were able to be competitors and able to compete against some of the higher level teams [this season].” 

    As an older player on the team, Reed has taken on significant leadership roles in the past few years. While he never saw himself in that type of role initially, other people told him they looked up to him as one. His goal throughout the entire season has been to help others around him. “My goal is to just improve as a player and improve the people around me as much as I can,” said Reed.  He prefers to stay away from any negative talk, instead trying to “always keep my head up on things and kind of look for the good in the situation.” His highlight of the season so far has been witnessing the comradery of the team and watching his teammates grow as players, as well as people. 

    Inspired by NBA players such as James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo, Reed also looks up to his friend and longtime Rams teammate, 16 year-old Matthew Simmons. “He's always been there through the hard times with me and...we've been able to develop together and I kind of look up to him for that,” said Reed. 

    Reed hopes to play in college in a few years, where he is planning to major in sport management or sports marketing. As for the lessons he’s learned from playing wheelchair basketball so far, Reed explained that he learned to “always stay humble. There's always going to be someone that's better than you. And to learn from that.” 

    Jack Pierre selected as "Captain" & Scholarship Recipient of Academic All-American Team

    COLORADO SPRINGS, CO- The National Wheelchair Basketball Association and Junior Division Executive Committee are proud to announce the teams for the 2020 Timothy J. Nugent High School Academic All-American and Academic Achievers presented by Toyota.

    The 2020 academic awards mark the 23rd time the Junior Division has recognized its best student-athletes for their work off the court. The Academic All-American recognizes athletes 10th through 12th grades, while the Academic Achievers recognizes athletes in grades 5th-9th.  

    Jack Pierre of Edina, MN was the selected "Captain" and scholarship recipient of the 2020 Timothy J. Nugent High School Academic All-American Presented by Toyota.

    2020 Timothy J. Nugent High School Academic All-American Presented by Toyota

    First Team - (receiving scholarship*)

    *Jack Pierre - Minnesota Jr. Rolling Timberwolves
    Edina High School in Edina, Minnesota

    Lilly Lautenschlager - Nebraska Red Dawgs
    Lincoln East High School in Lincoln, Nebraska

    Raia Ottenheimer - Mad City Badgers
    Madison West High School in Madison, Wisconsin

    Cameron Poole - Rockford Jr. Chariots
    Rockford Christian High School in Rockford, Illinois

    Hannah Smith - Sportable Spokes
    Smith Home-Based Education in Henico, Virginia

    Honorable Mention

    Aidan Granvelle - Minnesota Jr. Rolling Timberwolves
    Loyola Catholic High School in Mankato, Minnesota 

    Alma Velazquez - Utah Rush
    Viewmont High School in Bountiful, Utah

    2020 Timothy J. Nugent Academic Achievers Presented by Toyota

    Tucker Anderson - Charlotte Rollin Hornets

    Caleb Roach - Nebraska Red Dawgs

    Mary McLendon - Lakeshore Lakers

    Arelle Middleton - Rancho Halos

    Ben Edwards - Kansas City Kings

    Skyler Fisher - Dallas Jr. Mavericks

    Olivia Molnar - Dallas Jr. Mavericks

    Preston Howell - Charlotte Rollin Hornets

    Sadie Absher - Charlotte Rollin Hornets

    Zane Jasper-Jax Goodwin - Lakeshore Sharks

    Sean Nichols - Cincinnati Dragons

    Owen Horsley - Dallas Jr. Mavericks

    Jonathan Adam Smith - Charlotte Rollin Hornets

    Eli Johnson - Nebraska Red Dawgs

    Cameron Ruis - Charlotte Rollin Hornets

    Elliott Murphy - Kansas City Kings

    Riley Porter - Utah Rush

    Anderson Strom - Kansas City Kings

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