USA Wheelchair Rugby
The 2016 U.S. Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby Team is a mix of veterans, experienced players and newcomers who are hoping to bring home a gold medal. In April, the team brought home gold and qualified for Rio by winning the 2016 IWRF Paralympic Qualifier Tournament in Paris, France and in June regained its number one world ranking at the Canada Cup.
The squad features Chuck Aoki, one of the top players in the world, who is on the International Paralympic Committee’s Ones to Watch list. We can expect some very exciting matches in Rio. Australia, Canada and the U.S. have placed in the top three at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games. Both the U.S. and Australia have won a gold medal, but it could be a first for Canada. Since wheelchair rugby’s Paralympic debut at the Sydney 2000 Games, the U.S. has won a medal at each Games. Currently, the U.S. has two gold and two bronze medals. The USA Wheelchair Rugby Team opens competition against France on Wednesday, September 14.
Follow USA Wheelchair Rugby online.
USA Men’s Wheelchair Basketball
The USA Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team roster includes strong Alabama representation. Birmingham native and former Lakeshore youth athlete Brian Bell and University of Alabama player and alumnus Jared Arambula will make their Paralympic debut in Rio. Auburn University Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Head Coach Rob Taylor will serve as an assistant coach for the USA men. The team qualified for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games by winning the 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto, Canada. The U.S. men dominated the competition by outscoring their six opponents by 36 points per game and defeated Canada en route to the gold medal. Team USA is looking strong after defeating Paralympic favorites Australia, Canada and Great Britain at the 2016 Continental Clash tournament in July.
The USA Men’s Team brought home a bronze medal from the London 2012 Paralympics and looks to improve in Rio. The men’s team finished seventh in 2008 and fourth in 2004, following bronze-medal performances in 2000 and 1996. The last time that the U.S. Men’s Team won a gold medal was at the 1988 Paralympics in Seoul, South Korea. They are working to change that in Rio 2016.
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USA Women’s Wheelchair Basketball
The U.S. women are focused on returning to their medal-winning ways after finishing in fourth place at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. Previously, the team won gold medals at the 2004 and 2008 Paralympic Games. The team features 12 athletes comprised of seven wheelchair basketball Paralympians, eight of the 12 returning from the 2014 World Championships, and 10 athletes from the gold-medal winning 2015 Parapan American Games team. Two team members, Desiree Miller and Mackenzie Soldan, are alumnae of The University of Alabama and its women’s wheelchair basketball team. Abby Dunkin, making her Paralympic debut, is from Florence, Alabama.
The USA Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team qualified for Rio by winning the 2015 Parapan American Games. The U.S. women dominated the Parapan Am competition by outscoring their opponents by 55 points per game and avenged their 2014 World Championships fourth-place finish by defeating Canada for the gold medal in Toronto, Canada.
In preparation for the Games, the U.S. women competed in friendly international tournaments at the Olympic Training Centers in Colorado Springs, Colorado and Lake Placid, New York where they faced five of the seven teams they will see in Rio. Team USA was dominant in the tournaments, finishing 11-1 and defeating reigning Paralympic champion Germany and world champion Canada. The U.S. travels to Frankfurt, Germany for one final warm-up tournament before its opening game in Rio against France, September 8 at the Rio Olympic Arena.
Follow USA Women’s Wheelchair Basketball online.
USA Women’s Goalball
The USA Women’s Goalball Team has a history of dominance in the sport, winning bronze in 1996, silver in 2004 and gold at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. Four years ago USA Women’s Goalball finished in fifth place at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, and is looking to improve in 2016. Two key players, Jen Armbruster and Asya Miller are former Birmingham residents and Lakeshore employees who coached Lakeshore’s youth goalball and field teams. Rio will mark the sixth Paralympic Games for Armbruster, who served as the U.S. flag bearer during the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Paralympic Games. She will be joined by her father, Ken Armbruster, who serves as head coach of USA Women’s Goalball. The team’s recent success includes first place finishes at the 2014 World Championships and second place finish at the 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto, Canada, which qualified the women to Rio 2016. Most recently the U.S. women dominated the competition at the FEDC Invitational Goalball Tournament in Villaviciosa de Odon, Spain, outscoring their opponents 49-10 over six games.
The USA will face one of its toughest opponents, host-nation Brazil, in its opening game at Future Arena on September 8.
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Jennifer Schuble (cycling)
Homewood, Alabama resident Jennifer Schuble conducts her off-road training at Lakeshore each week as she prepares to compete in her third Paralympic Games. A veteran of the U.S. Paralympic Cycling Team, Schuble has been a talented athlete throughout her life. She was a two-time state champion in soccer and a varsity track runner in high school. While attending the United States Military Academy at West Point to become a commissions officer, she was a varsity athlete in three separate sports. One day during hand-to-hand combat class at West Point, Schuble sustained a traumatic brain injury. She sustained an additional brain injury later in a car accident, and in 2004 was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Those challenges only fueled Schuble’s drive. After discovering Paralympic cycling, she won her first world championship title in 2007. Since then, Schuble has earned three additional world championship titles and five Paralympic medals from the 2008 and 2012 Games. Schuble works full-time at Mercedes-Benz, is an avid triathlete and enjoys spending time with her two English bulldogs. This summer she will look to add five more medals to her collection of gold, silver and bronze. If she adds three, she will become the most decorated U.S. Paralympic cyclist of all time.
Follow Jennifer Schuble online.
Josh Roberts (track and field)
Josh Roberts can be found sprinting around Lakeshore’s indoor track, pounding the rollers or lifting in the fitness center in preparation for the 2016 Paralympics. Roberts, an Alabama native, first made the U.S. Paralympic Team in 2008 and competed in the Paralympic Games in Beijing, China. That first experience on a world-stage helped prepare Roberts for more great things ahead. In 2010 he won a silver and a bronze medal at the U.S. Paralympic National Championship. After competing in the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championship, Roberts was named to the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Team and competed at the Games in London where he placed fourth in the 400m, sixth in the 100m, and eighth in the 200m and 800m. Now Roberts is a veteran of the U.S. Paralympics Track & Field Team, competing in his third Paralympic Games. With the elimination of the 200 and 800m events in the T52 classification, Roberts will focus on the 100m and 1500m events in Rio.
Roberts is also a member of Lakeshore’s Demolition wheelchair rugby team. When he’s not competing, he enjoys playing the guitar and listening to music.
Emily Frederick (track and field)
Emily Frederick, a 2016 graduate of Hokes Bluff High School, burst onto the Paralympic scene last year as one of the top American shot putters in her classification. An athlete since childhood, Frederick was one of the first Para-ambulatory athletes to compete and earn points for her high school track and field team under the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) new wheelchair and Para-ambulatory track and field guidelines. Frederick was also a member of Lakeshore’s youth track and field team. In addition to her athletic achievements, she was named a scholarship winner in the 2016 Bryant-Jordan Awards program for high school athletes with outstanding academic achievement. Frederick is now a Penn State Nittany Lion, having accepted a track and field scholarship to the athletic powerhouse. Before she competes for her university, she will compete in the F40 shot put event for Team USA at her first Paralympic Games.
Kerri Morgan (track)
A two-time Paralympian in track, the first women to make the USA Wheelchair Rugby Team and a professor of Occupational Therapy at Washington University, Kerri Morgan sets big goals on and off of the competition field. In 2015, Morgan conducted her postdoctoral work at Lakeshore with the UAB/Lakeshore Research Collaborative and trained for the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar where she brought home silver medals in the 100, 200 and 400-meter T52 races. Morgan will compete in her third Paralympic Games in Rio. She will race in the women’s 100 and 400m T52 events in Rio and aims to upgrade her bronze medals from London 2012.