At 18 years old, Joel Wilmoth is one of the youngest athletes ever nominated to the U.S. Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby Team. With his size and physical play, Wilmoth promises to be a force for the U.S. for years to come and has already been praised by head coach James Gumbert as a future star in the sport. In Beijing, Wilmoth won gold with Team USA.
Wilmoth started visiting the Lakeshore Foundation simply to work out. One day, a member of the Lakeshore staff approached him and told him he should check out wheelchair rugby. Wilmoth agreed to watch a practice, but still wasn't sold. After all, he didn't use a wheelchair to get around (he is missing his feet on both legs, and has only one finger on each hand), and the game didn't look that physical. Wilmoth played football in junior high and didn't think that rugby could provide the same feeling.
When he expressed his hesitance toward the sport, the staff encouraged him to get in a chair and try it out first-hand. Wilmoth said that when he received his first big hit and felt the resulting pain, he was sold on the game and has been playing ever since.
Wilmoth graduated from high school in 2008 and will enroll in college in 2009 to pursue a business degree. He also works as a heavy equipment operator for a construction company. When he's not in school, at work or playing rugby, Wilmoth says he likes to spend as much free time with his friends as possible.
- 2008: First place - Canada Cup, Burnaby, British Columbia
- 2008: Second place - North American Cup, Birmingham, Alabama
- 2007: Nominated to 2008 U.S. Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby Team