Tagged with: athletes education goals sports wheelchair
The lifestyle of an athlete is one that is chosen, for it takes a certain amount of guile and discipline to be able to function in the athletic world. At the University of Illinois, those that were on the wheelchair basketball team had a very tedious schedule. While most people are still sleeping at 5:00 AM, we were up and preparing for our 6:30 AM practices. As “normal” people were dreaming, we were out on the court trying to make our dreams a reality. Before we could even get on the court, we had to make sure our chairs were ready. Chair maintenance is a tedious but necessary part of being a wheelchair basketball player, if the slightest thing is off about our chairs it can mean the difference between a win or a loss.
When 6:30 AM came around we had to be ready to be challenged. During practice we put our bodies to the test, both mentally and physically. Sprints had our lungs screaming “mercy” but the thoughts of anything less than a national championship kept us going. Hitting the floor on a foul on regular occasion keeps the blood boiling and intensity high. Maintaining muscle memory while trying to shoot our “perfect shots” in a game stimulated our minds and felt like magic whenever they splashed through the net. Using our dexterity and hand speed to lock down the offense while on defense is what I lived for. Having true grit and physically stopping someone from scoring is one of the best feelings in basketball to me.
Being a part of the University of Illinois’ wheelchair basketball team meant not only were we expected to be excellent on the court but in the classroom as well. After practice we had to attend class and sit in the front rows of all of our classes. We were all easy to identify, (the wheelchairs probably helped). Some of our goals academically are to have a 3.2 GPA collectively as a team and to get all of our study hours in every week. We were required to get at least 8 hours of studying at Irwin, which is a separate building for all of the athletes on campus to use for studying. At Irwin I had many interactions with other athletes and we found a common bond in our lifestyles. We all laughed at the thought of sleep “free time” because that was almost nonexistent in season.
Aside from regular practice, we also had what we call “small group”. Small group is a time where we can focus on certain fundamentals that the coaches think we should work on to better our game individually. We also had to hit the weights 3 times a week in order to make physical gains. Our schedules also had a set time for video. During video times is where we can analyze our performance during games down to the smallest detail.
Being a wheelchair basketball player is tough, we had to be in the best health and if we weren’t we would achieve it in season in our body, mind, and spirit. We are looked up to on campus by those who understand what we do and why. It is with patience and passion that we try and uphold the tradition of prestige and honor to the University of Illinois. We do it to be champions on the court, the classroom, but most importantly in life. Who are we? FIB! (Fighting Illini Basketball) What are some things that you are passionate about?