US Women's Wheelchair Basketball Team Prepares in Charlotte Area for World Championship
MOORESVILLE, N.C. - The elite US Women's Wheelchair Basketball team practiced for six hours at Agape Christian Academy in Mooresville Thursday. If there are doubts this is a physical, fast past game, just take a look at their moves. 17-year-old Ballantyne resident Caitlin McDermott is the youngest player on the team. She was born with Spina Bifida, but she's never let it get in the way of her passion for basketball. What does impact court time is school. "That's the hard part about being so young, you still have to worry about high school and academics come first,” she says.
McDermott and her teammates will travel to England June 30th where they'll face teams from across the globe, all vying for a gold medal. The last time the US team won was 20 years ago. Coach David Kiley, a Mooresville resident, hopes to break that streak. "Winning is in every body's DNA in this gym, period,” says Kiley.
Kiley suffered a spinal cord injury when he was younger and learned to play ball from his chair instead of on his feet. What he loves about wheelchair basketball at this level is the purity of the game. There are no scandals, no steroids, no over inflated salaries. In fact, most, if not all, of the players sacrifice vacation time and pay out of pocket for travel expenses. Kiley points out, “When you're at the highest level of able bodied ball, you're normally a millionaire or better."
Kiley says winning next month would be the defining moment of his coaching career. For McDermott, a win would mark an incredible start of hers. She says, "It's worth it, I think, the sacrifice."
The team will practice in Mooresville for a few more days. They face Great Britain in the first round of the tournament. We'll keep you posted on how they do.