By Christopher Fields, Warrior Care and TransitionOctober 26, 2018
Team U.S. Wheelchair Basketball looking for third straight Invictus Games gold
By Christopher Fields, Warrior Care and Transition
SYDNEY - After losing to the United Kingdom in the gold medal game of the 2014 Invictus Games, Team U.S. wheelchair basketball won gold at the 2016 and 2017 Invictus Games. After the 55-51 win over Nederland in last year's final, Team U.S. is anxious to get back on the court and earn an Invictus Games "three-peat."
"I was on Team U.S. in 2016 when they won gold, but I didn't play on the wheelchair basketball team that year," said U.S. Army 1st Lt. (ret.) Chris Parks. "I remember being in awe of that team and dreamed of being a part of a team like that. Now here I am, living that dream and it's an honor and a privilege to be a part this team and represent our nation."
In addition to Parks, there are several new faces on this year's team and they are all well aware of the legacy and expectations that come with being on Team U.S. One member of the team, U.S. Army Spc. Stephanie Johnson, may be competing in wheelchair basketball at Invictus Games for the first time, but she has had plenty of on court experience as a member of Team Army at the Department of Defense Warrior Games.
"Being a part of a third gold medal winning team with Team Army was great and I'm proud of that accomplishment, but I'm trying to do it again here. We have a solid team and a good chance to go far," Johnson said. "This is my first time playing [at Invictus Games] and winning a gold in my favorite sport would be cool."
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. (ret.) Ross Alewine, who has already won medals in three of the five events he's competed in so far, is looking forward to playing with the team. "I've had some success in the individual sports, but team sports mean so much more because you're working together towards that common goal to win and you have someone to share that success with. I'm blessed to be able to take the court with these guys and we've got each other's back."
The players know there is a target on their back from the other nations looking to dethrone Team U.S. as the Invictus Games Champion and they enjoy the fact that they get everyone's best effort when they play.
"It's great being the hunted because that makes us play that much harder knowing we're going to get their best effort," Johnson said. "They all want to be where we are and we want to stay on top, so we're working hard to do that."
Team U.S. finished pool play undefeated at 2 - 0 earning themselves the Pool A top seed for the semifinal round tomorrow where they will play the United Kingdom.