Meet The 12 Members Of The U.S. Paralympic Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team
By Todd Kortemeier |
June 12, 2021, 10 p.m. (ET)
Seeking to extend its lead on the Paralympic wheelchair basketball all-time medal table, the U.S. men’s team will be sending an experienced group to Tokyo to bring home a ninth gold medal.
The 12-player roster announced Saturday by the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA), governing body for the sport in the United States, features eight athletes who were on the gold medal-winning team at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016. Another 11 were part of the team that won gold at the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru. The roster announcement comes at the conclusion of a three-day Toyota Team USA Men’s Selection Camp at the University of Texas-Arlington.
“We were very pleased with how competitive this year's selection was. Without having the chance to train together in over a year and a half we picked up where we left off,” said U.S. head coach Ron Lykins in an NWBA news release. “The twelve athletes selected give us plenty of veteran leadership that should help us have success in Tokyo. We are very excited to work with this team.”
Here’s a closer look at the 12 men who will be battling it out on the court this summer.
Bell was a first-time Paralympian in 2016 and has developed a reputation as one of the team’s top defenders. He’s helped the team to world championship silver medals in 2014 and 2018 and was on the 2019 Parapans team as well. The 32-year-old from Birmingham, Alabama, has spent time playing professionally in Germany when not suiting up for Team USA.
Boie discovered wheelchair basketball at the age of 11 at a summer camp at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He fell in love with the sport and later ended up attending UWW and leading its basketball team to three national championships. The 30-year-old from Milton, Wisconsin, made his first national team in 2017 and played on the 2018 team that won a silver medal at the world championships and the 2019 gold medal-winning Parapans team.
Hinze didn’t start playing wheelchair basketball until 2006 while attending Wisconsin-Whitewater. By 2010 he was on the world championship team and in 2012 made his Paralympic debut with a bronze medal. Hinze won silver at the world championships in 2014 and returned to the Paralympic team in 2016. The 33-year-old from Cedar Grove, Wisconsin, works as a teacher.
Jenifer had planned to go to college for wrestling, in which he’d been one of the best in the state of Maryland in high school. But upon receiving an offer to attend Edinboro University to play basketball, Jenifer changed course and became a three-year captain and two-time All-American. Jenifer graduated in 2011 and made his first of two Paralympic teams in 2012. Jenifer, 32, holds degrees in criminal justice and legal studies and plans to one day become an attorney.
Lesperance returns to the Paralympic team for the first time since the 2008 Beijing Games. The 34-year-old from Coleman, Wisconsin, also played on the 2010 world championship team that won a bronze medal and the 2019 Parapans team. Lesperance is an alum of the Wisconsin-Whitewater program.
Neiswender is an alum of the University Illinois program, where he was an All-American. He’s also spent time playing professionally in Germany. Neiswender previously played for the U.S. at zonal qualifiers in 2013 and 2017 but will be making his first Paralympic Games. Newiswender, 27, originally hails from Lebanon, Pennsylvania.
Paye is one of two members of the team making his fifth appearance at the Paralympic Games. The 38-year-old from Warren, Michigan, made his Paralympic debut in 2004 and has helped the U.S. get better with every Games after a seventh place finish that year. The U.S. was fourth in 2008, won bronze in 2012 and broke through to gold in 2016. Paye also has three world championship medals. In college, he led UT-Arlington to two national titles.
Another UT-Arlington alum, Sanchez made his first national team in 2013 for the Americas Cup in Colombia. The 29-year-old from Oakland, California, has since played with the U.S at the 2018 world championships and 2019 Parapan American Games in addition to playing overseas in Spain.
Along with Paye, Scott is one of two members of the U.S. team now playing in his fifth Paralympic Games. In addition to those two Paralympic medals, Scott owns four world championship medals and played on four Parapans teams, including in 2019. Recently, the 36-year-old from Detroit has spoken up about mental health awareness, writing blog entries for TeamUSA.org.
Serio is one of the longest-tenured members of the national team, making his fourth Paralympic Games. Serio, from Westbury, New York, began playing wheelchair basketball in high school, and led his team to a national title and was MVP of the national tournament. He then went to the University of Illinois where he was player of the game in the national championship. In addition to two Paralympic medals, the 33-year-old has four world championship medals.
Turek’s ultimate goal in wheelchair basketball was to win a gold medal. Turek achieved that goal with Team USA in 2016 on his third try, but just couldn’t say goodbye to basketball. Turek returned to play on the 2019 Parapan American Games team then opted to go for one more Paralympic medal. The 42-year-old from Council Bluffs, Iowa, told TeamUSA.org in 2019 that he plans to retire following the Tokyo Games.
Shortly after graduating in 2015 from the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, where he played college basketball, Williams found himself in Rio winning Paralympic gold. Williams also played on the team that won a world championship silver medal in 2018 and gold at the 2019 Parapans team. The native of Milwaukee turns 30 on Aug. 2.
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.