UW-Whitewater hosting National Wheelchair Basketball Championships
WHITEWATER, Wis. (WMTV) - Eleven teams from all corners of the United States will be in Whitewater this week for the National Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball Tournament. The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is hosting this year’s national championship March 16-18.
The UWW men’s wheelchair basketball team has won the national tournament 13 times and the team is looking to win again.
“We have enough talent to win and everyone has to play a major role because we’re on a little bit of a small team,” head coach Jake Williams said about his six-player team.
Division III UW-Whitewater is going up against Division I and II teams. But, in wheelchair basketball, all divisions play together. Coach Williams said it doesn’t matter the size of your team, as long as you’re up for the challenge.
“Whitewater historically has been kind of a powerhouse so we don’t see ourselves as the little school in wheelchair basketball. Those other schools have kind of been looking up at us. So just trying to continue the tradition and keep that same level of reputation up high,” he said.
This is Williams’ first year as head coach. He wore purple and white for two years in Whitewater on the men’s wheelchair basketball team before playing overseas and winning gold on Team USA.
Senior Talen Jourdan is not far behind Coach Williams.
“I played able-bodied sports until the age of 13 when I fell from my tree stand. I ended up breaking my back. I had no idea about wheelchair sports until then,” 23-year-old Jourdan said. “So after the injury it was kind of a bit of a change but luckily found wheelchair basketball so I can continue to play sports in some way anyway.”
Some players on the UWW team are in wheelchairs because of injuries and others are able-bodied players but are on the team for fun.
“We all connect super easily through the sport,” Jourdan said.
Jourdan is also on Team USA. He said his goal after this season is to make the Paris 2024 Paralympic Team and to play professionally in Europe after his fifth year at UWW.
The Warhawks play Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Williams Center. If they win, they will play again Thursday at 6 p.m. Admission to the tournament is free but donations to support UWW wheelchair athletics are encouraged.
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