John Boie competes at the Parapan American Games Lima 2019 on Aug. 24, 2019 in Lima, Peru.
John Boie has always loved basketball, but after a tractor accident left him with an incomplete spinal cord injury (T4/5) he was determined to find a way back to the sport he loved.
Not far from his hometown of Milton, Wisconsin, 11-year-old Boie was introduced to the sport of wheelchair basketball while attending a summer camp at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
“As soon as I went to the camp, I just fell in love with it,” said Boie. “I love the comradery of wheelchair basketball, and you’re on a team with your peers who are dealing with a lot of the same disabilities.”
In college, Boie went back to where it all started and played for UW-Whitewater. During his time there, the UWW team won three national championships.
Boie made his first national team in 2017 and played in the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation America’s Zonal Qualifier.
“Hearing your named called on a team like that was really special moment,” said Boie.
He also competed at the 2018 Wheelchair Basketball World Championships in Hamburg, Germany where the team took home silver.
“Basketball has been an integral part of my life,” said Boie. “It’s taught me how to be a leader and how to be a role player. It’s shown me the world. It’s been everything for me.”
Now competing at the Parapan American Games Lima 2019, Boie and the U.S. men’s team are on a quest to bring home the gold medal.
“It’s always been my dream since I was a kid to play on a team like this,” said Boie. “And now we are here.”
Boie says he is confident in the team. The U.S. men’s team has the ability to qualify for the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 if they finish in the top-three teams.
“We have a really selfless team,” said Boie. “All of us just want each other to succeed and that’s why we are so successful. A lot of these guys got a gold medal in Rio, and I want to get a gold medal myself. Qualifying is really the next step for us and I want to do everything I can to help me and my teammates.”
But for Boie, having the chance to compete at his first Parapan American Games and potentially at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo means a little bit more. It’s fulfilling his lifelong dream.
“The word surreal comes to mind,” said Boie. “And having my hometown’s support makes it all the more special.”