Sports’N Spokes Magazine:
The National Wheelchair Basketball Association announces the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team roster
Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team. The Team USA roster features eight U.S. Paralympians, five with World Championships experience, and returns 10 of the 12 from the gold-medal winning 2015 Parapan Am Games. This team will feature five-time U.S. Paralympian and co-captain Christina Schwab of Lakewood, Colorado, who will lead her group of 12 athletes into Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in September. The team was selected by the National Wheelchair Basketball Association Women’s Player Selection Committee and is pending final approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee and U.S. Paralympics.
Schwab, a two-sport Paralympian, garners two gold medals in wheelchair basketball from Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, and participated in four World Championships in wheelchair basketball (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010). She was a member of the track and field team in London 2012.
Gail Gaeng of Frederick Maryland, the other co-captain, will be making her maiden trip to the Rio 2016 Paralympics. The 24-year-old and recent University of Illinois graduate helped Team USA to the top of the podium last summer at the Parapan Am Games.
“The selection of the U.S. women’s team was a tough choice for head coach Stephanie Wheeler and the selection committee, as all of the athletes are deserving of selection,” said Jim Scherr, NWBA Executive Director. “The talent of this team brings a wealth of experience from prior Paralympics and World Championships, and familiarity to draw from that will provide the United States success in Rio. This team is deep in talent, and provides our coaching staff an ability to establish numerous lineups as we build towards Rio in September.”
Making their third Games appearance are Becca Murray of Germantown, Wisconsin and Natalie Schneider of Crete, Nebraska. Both Murray and Schneider won gold in 2008 and finished fourth in 2012. Murray has also played in two World Championships in 2010 and 2014, and was joined by Schneider in 2010.
Five athletes will return for their second Games appearance after success at the Parapan Am Games in Toronto, Canada, last summer, and are led by the offensive juggernaut Rose Hollermann of Elysian, Minnesota; and the defensive strengths of Darlene Hunter of Commerce Township, Michigan; Desiree Miller of Monroe, Washington; and Jennifer Poist of McSherrystown, Pa. Hunter and Miller both played on the 2010 World Championship team, while Hollermann and Poist were members of the 2014 World Championship team.
Mackenzie Soldan of Hemlock, Michigan will be making her second appearance in the Games but her first in wheelchair basketball. Soldan competed in tennis in London 2012, but shortly after the London Paralympics she came back to wheelchair basketball and competed on the 2014 U.S. Women’s World Championship team and helped Team USA to the gold medal at the 2015 Parapan Am Games.
2014 World Championship teammates and 2015 Parapan Am Games teammates Megan Blunk of Gig Harbor, Washington, and Abigail Dunkin of New Braunfels, Texas, will make their first trip to the Games in September. Also joining will be Vanessa Erskine of Kearney, Missouri, a Youth Parapan Games gold medalist.
“The decision was difficult in selecting the final 12 members of this Paralympic Games team, and I am thankful for the input from the selection committee,” said U.S. Women’s Head Coach Stephanie Wheeler of Champaign, Illinois. “We have been working together for several months as a team, and have grown together in training camps and international competitions. The mixture of veterans and newcomers brings talent, skill and energy that should position the United States well this September.”
Up next for the U.S. Women will be the second U.S. Women’s International Friendly at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York, June 22-26. Team USA will close out its 2016 international schedule at the Women’s World Super Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, July 13-18. The 12 women will have one more training camp in Colorado Springs prior to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, scheduled for Sept. 7-18.
The U.S. women’s team qualified for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games by winning the 2015 Parapan American Games. The U.S. women dominated the Parapan Am competition by outscoring their opponents by 55 points per game and avenged their 2014 World Championships fourth-place finish by defeating Canada for the gold medal in Toronto, Canada.
The U.S. Women’s Head Coach is Stephanie Wheeler of Champaign, Illinois, who won two Paralympic gold medals at the 2004 and 2008 Games, and will be assisted by NWBA Hall of Famer Trooper Johnson of San Lorenzo, California, and Amy Spangler of Madison, Wisconsin, with Kearstin Gehlhausen of Whitewater, Wisconsin, serving as the team leader, and Karla Wessels of Lexington, Kentucky, is the athletic trainer. Dr. Roberta Kraus of Colorado Springs, Colorado, serves as both the men’s and women’s Team Psychologist.
The U.S. Women’s team finished fourth at the London 2012 Paralympics, after claiming the gold medal at the Beijing 2008 and Athens 2004 Paralympic Games.
2016 U.S. Paralympic Women’s Team Roster (Alphabetical)
Name – Residence
- Megan Blunk – Urbana, Ill.
- Abby Dunkin – Arlington, Texas
- Vanessa Erskine – Kearney, Mo
- Gail Gaeng – Champaign, Ill
- Rose Hollermann – Arlington, Texas
- Darlene Hunter – Arlington, Texas
- Desiree Miller – Whitewater, Wis.
- Becca Murray – Germantown, Wis.
- Jennifer Poist – Tucson, Ariz.
- Natalie Schneider – Crete, Neb.
- Christina Schwab – Lakewood, Colo.
- Mackenzie Soldan – Tuscaloosa, Ala
U.S. Team Staff:
- Head Coach: Stephanie Wheeler, Champaign, Illinois
- Assistant Coach: Trooper Johnson, San Lorenzo, California; Amy Spangler, Madison, Wisconsin
- Team Leader: Kearstin Gehlhausen, Whitewater, Wisconsin
- Athletic Trainer: Karla Wessels, Lexington, Kentucky
- Team Psychologist: Dr. Roberta Kraus, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games Schedule
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – September 7-18, 2016
2016 Rio Paralympic Games Women’s pools
Group A: Canada; Germany; Great Britain; Argentina; Brazil
Group B: USA; Netherlands; France; China; Algeria
Source by the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA). All rights reserved.