Meet The 12 Members Of The U.S. Paralympic Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team
By Todd Kortemeier |
July 12, 2021, 2 p.m. (ET)
The U.S. women’s wheelchair basketball team in Tokyo will return just three players from the team that won it all in 2016, but that doesn’t mean the squad lacks for experience.
Six newcomers were on the 2019 Parapan American Games team that won the silver medal, and some have experience from the 2018 world championships, youth world championships and more.
“It has been a long process, and we are excited and happy with the new athletes,” said U.S. head coach Trooper Johnson in a news release. “We have such a young team with incredible potential to develop. They have done an amazing job coming together in such a short time. We are ready to go defend the gold medal from Rio.”
Johnson will be in his first Paralympic Games as a head coach but served as an assistant in Rio. Johnson took over as head coach shortly after the Games and has led the team to a silver medal at the 2017 America’s Cup and at the 2019 Parapan American Games. The team finished sixth at the 2018 world championships.
Here’s a closer look at the 12 athletes who will go after a second consecutive gold medal this summer.
A 25-year-old from Jordan, Minnesota, Aslakson has been on the national team since 2017. She discovered basketball at the age of 13 and played collegiately at the University of Texas-Arlington. She also attended New York University before playing her final season at the University of Arizona. One of her coaches on the Wildcats was U.S. teammate Courtney Ryan, an Arizona assistant.
Bauleke will be a newcomer not only to the Paralympic Games but also to the senior national team. The Savage, Minnesota, native owns one gold medal from the 2019 Under-25 world championships. Bauleke, who will turn 20 later in July, plays collegiately for the University of Alabama.
Eaton began her Team USA career at the 2017 America’s Cup and has been on the national team ever since. The Houston native, who will turn 27 just before the Games, also took part in the 2018 world championships. She competed collegiately at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and later returned to the school to get her master’s degree in social work and healthcare.
The youngest member of the team at 17, Gonzalez has been on the national team since competing at the 2019 Under-25 world championships. The Chicago native was inspired to play wheelchair basketball after watching her brother, who has cerebral palsy. Gonzalez also plays wheelchair softball.
One of three returning Paralympians on the team, Hollerman will be back at the Games for the third time. The 25-year-old from Elysian, Minnesota, has been on the national team since 2011. She played in college at the University of Texas-Arlington and in 2019 was selected as the U.S. flag bearer at the Closing Ceremony of the Parapan American Games.
One of two co-captains of the team, Hunter will be going to her third Paralympic Games. Hunter has been on the national team since 2010, when she was a part of the world championship-winning squad. The 39-year-old from Walled Lake, Michigan, went to college at Arizona and now lives in Dallas where she has been coach of the Lady Mavericks wheelchair basketball team.
Ibanez made her national team debut at the 2018 world championships and has been on the squad ever since. The 21-year-old from Murray, Utah, currently attends the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she is studying graphic design. She discovered wheelchair basketball at 13 when she saw a team practicing, a team called the Utah Rush that she would later join.
Another of the team’s promising youngsters is Moody, a 19-year-old from Alpharetta, Georgia. Moody started playing wheelchair basketball in 2014 and made her U.S. debut at the 2018 world championships. She currently plays collegiately for the University of Alabama.
Ryan returned to her alma mater of Arizona as assistant coach and also co-founded the Team PossAbilities Shield Maidens women’s wheelchair basketball team in Los Angeles. The 31-year-old from San Diego made her world championship debut in 2014.
The only member of the team making her fourth Paralympic appearance, Schneider serves as a co-captain alongside Darlene Hunter. The 37-year-old from Crete, Nebraska, helped Team USA to the gold medal in Beijing in 2008 and also a world championship in 2010. Schneider previously played sitting volleyball before discovering basketball, making her first national team in 2008.
Voris will be on her second national team after making her debut at the 2017 America’s Cup. The Chicago native is currently a fine arts major at the University of Texas-Arlington, where she also plays for the Lady Movin’ Mavs. Voris was one of four high school athletes selected for the America’s Cup team.
Zurbrugg also made her U.S. debut in the 2017 America’s Cup, while she was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. A 22-year-old from Portland, Oregon, Zurbrugg played able-bodied basketball for six years until a back injury revealed a tethered spinal cord that she had since birth.
Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.