It is spring and for me, that means it is not only time to finish my bachelor’s degree, but also to begin my yearly travels to compete for the German women’s wheelchair basketball national team.
Only one week after I had finished the season as a national champion in the US intercollegiate division, I spent my spring break with the national team at the University of Texas-Arlington for an 11-day training camp.
This was the first time the team was nearly complete and training again since the London 2012 Paralympics.
The week was filled with hard work along with a few fun events such as shopping and watching a Dallas Mavericks NBA game.
This training camp was also the first as preparation for the 2013 European Championships, which will be held in Frankfurt at the end of June.
As we are the host and current top team worldwide, we train hard to try to continue being at our best.
Last year was the first time in 28 years that we were able to get to this level. However, getting there and being able to stay there are two completely different challenges, so we have to start over and train just like before.
After the camp in Texas, all of us returned to our homes to train with our club or collegiate teams and prepare on our own, while working, or in my case taking exams and going to class.
Most of the year was spent that way, which is why most of the success we have really depends on how hard we are willing to train and how much time we are able to spend in gyms.
Luckily, most of us are in situations where we are provided with many opportunities and are able to train and play at high levels all year.
Sometimes, the travels with the national team provide a challenge to these situations, though. As many of us work, study or go to school, we always have to find the understanding of professors or supervisors that allow us to take days off.
I am personally very fortunate to have chosen to study in the United States, as the university is very accommodating and allows me to be with the national team almost every time to continue developing together.
Thus, last Thursday, only four weeks before finishing my undergraduate studies, I got on a plane to Germany to compete at the women’s national championships and a training camp with the national team.
At the German championships, I was competing for Hamburg. We had four full games within two days and were not only able to capture the first place but I was also named tournament MVP.
Next on the busy travel schedule was a training camp with the national team in Berlin.
However, first we got to enjoy the benefits of winning a Paralympic gold medal. Our sponsor, Audi, allowed us to spend a whole day driving and racing some of their best cars, which was a very fun team event.
We trained for three days, pushing and competing against each other. The time was well spent, and thus as I am now sitting on a plane flying back to the US, I am exhausted but excited for the rest of the summer that I will continue having fun with the team while training and playing my favourite sport.
However, before I am able to see them again, I will have to spend two weeks to catch up on exams, papers and other school work to make sure I actually graduate this May.
It would simply be too easy if I could just train and do what I love most.
I will continue to write blogs leading up to and during the European Championships (28 June-7 July), as well as the U25 European Championships (15-18 August), so keep checking back.
Another two hours until we will finally be back from our long weekend trip to Edinboro, Pennsylvania.
After being on a bus with 35 people in only 50 seats for about eight hours, I can only dream of being home and getting in a big comfortable bed.
Thursday, I had left Whitewater, Wisconsin along with the university’s men’s and women’s teams for our first big road trip of the season. Even though we prepared well, packing 22 ball chairs and 29 day chairs bared its challenges and ended in a bus packed tight with people stacked on top of each other.
My team’s first game Friday morning was set to be against one of our rivals, Alabama, who we had not played since March 2012, when we beat them to win the National Championship. We knew it would be a hard fought game, so even though we didn’t reach our hotel and get to bed until 2.30 AM on Friday, we made sure to be mentally fit. As expected, Alabama came out strong but we fought back and won 72-54 in the end.
Afterwards, we were tired but there was no time to get rest because a few hours later we had a game against Illinois on our schedule. Thus, we stayed at the gym and cheered on our men’s team taking on Alabama in an also hard fought game while having lunch.
Then, it was our turn again as we had to play Illinois, a very fast pace team with good outside shooters and the tallest female in our division. Even though we had beat them twice just a week ago, it was another tough game. None of us could get in sync but we worked even harder instead and won again.
After this long day, it was finally time to rest and get a full night’s sleep before two more games today: One against Edinboro, the host, and another one against Alabama which we both won 65-16 and 67-48 respectively.
While we played Alabama, our men already packed the bus, so that we rushed in the showers to get on the bus as quick as possible when we were done.
This summarizes three long days as a Warhawk that take everything out of us, but allowed us to stay undefeated and be able to enjoy our Sunday off tomorrow:
College sports as I love and enjoy them with all their challenges every day!
Three months later and here I am, the same person, the same favorite sport, the same occupation but a Paralympian that is available as a LEGO figure!
Currently, I am still enjoying my student athlete life by going to class and practice, and working hard with the UWW Warhawks.
End of November, we had our first games of the season and were able to win all three, one against the University of Illinois and two against the University of Arizona. It was like nothing changed and we had a great time working on our game. I’m excited to be able to work with this group of athletes for a few more months. After Christmas we will really be getting into our season as we play about 20 games in 12 weeks.
Until then, it is time to study and write some papers as I am completing my second last semester on my way to a Bachelor’s Degree.
To keep you up-to-date with my recent life events, check out the following links:
- Our German National Team was announced as No. 22 for the IPC’s Top 50 Paralympic Moments:
- Pictures and a preview of our home games:
- An article on the UWW men’s and women’s teams defending National Champions:
- Results and statistics from the UWW games in November:
- A video interview with the UWW Chancellor about the Paralympics:
- My first blog for the IPC:
As amazing as it is to have a gold medal, there still is my life that I need to return to.
Paralympics was like a fun escape, where the only thing we had to worry about was playing basketball. We didn’t have to cook, do laundry or go to work or college, just play basketball. The last weekend after we won our gold medal on Friday were almost like a holiday as we only had very few press and ceremony appointments but just celebrated our achievement the entire time. Unfortunately, this great experience is over, which means all athletes return to their real life.
In my case, it means that I had to fly back to Whitewater, Wisconsin, USA. But of course it wasn’t normal travels: This time I made it all more exciting by oversleeping by four hours! Instead of waking up to my alarm at 8 a.m., I woke up when hearing a lady from housekeeping knock on my door at 12p.m. She was just as confused as me to see me still there because I was supposed to leave the house as the last from our team at 9.30a.m. When I just quickly told her I overslept and started throwing all my clothes in my bag she simply said “Good Luck!” and turned around and left! I’m sure I amused her the way I jumped up and went crazy packing and getting ready. I mean just imagine my mess of a room and me all sleepy jumping up throwing stacks of things in my bags, unplugging three devices at once and just throwing them in my bag still on their chargers…
In the end, I managed to get ready, packed and to the airport within two hours, so I still made my flight three hours later. Actually, it was really nice because I would have been very tired but as I slept in I was awake and relaxed once I got on the plane!
Once I returned to Whitewater yesterday, it was time to go to bed again. But today I went to a class and had to get some books etc., so I’m beginning to live my usual life again. Nevertheless, I’m still a gold medalist and many people are excited about this fact, so I still enjoy this amazing experience.
Also, there are many articles published on me and my team’s success, here are just a few:
Still unbelievable we won gold last night! It was amazing and the endscore was 58-44!
We celebrated all night and are headed to a ARD’s TV studio (German TV station) for interviews now.
Today is finals day. We put on a fight against the Netherlands and won a tough semifinal 49-46, so today we know we will have a silver medal and can play for the gold!
As you can see in the picture, the weather is great, so we enjoy the afternoon getting ready for the final.
Australia has put on some great games so far and are a strong team, so we expect a close, tough game. Follow it online at london2012.com and paralympic.org at 9.15 pm London time!
Today is another big day for us here in London. After a quick shoot around this morning, we prepare to play the Netherlands at 3.15 p.m.
It will be a tough game but we knew it would be before and it’s what we came here for.
Competition is what the Paralympics are about. A win today would ensure us a medal, a loss would mean we have to fight for Bronze tomorrow.
Thus, it is a meaningful game for us. Even though the focus still is to simply play basketball as we always do.
Follow the game at paralympic.org or london 2012.com at 3.15 p.m. London time!
Yesterday, we won a tough quarterfinal game over the host Great Britain 55-44. Before continuing with the semifinal against Netherlands tomorrow at 3.15 pm, we have a day off today.
After five games in five days, it is a nice for a change to get some rest. Also, our men’s team were playing their quarterfinal game today, so we met to watch them. Unfortunately, they lost to USA after a great first half, so all basketball medal hopes are on us now.
But as I said before, it is important to focus on what’s next rather than what the outcome of the tournament should be, so all there is to think about for us is how to be ready to beat the Netherlands on Thursday. Many teams have been talking about fighting for a gold medal or a medal at all all summer but I think it just takes away from actually realizing this dream. It’s all about focusing on one game at a time. Playing well when you need to.
If you would like to follow our path, watch our game live at 3.15 p.m. London local time. Schedules and stats are online at: http://www.london2012.com/paralympics/wheelchair-basketball/event/women/
Video live streaming will be available at: http://smart.paralympic.org/player/Main.html
After beating China 56-50 yesterday, we beat Mexico 68-28 today. Thus, we have won all four games we played so far and take first place in our group. We will continue with the quarterfinal against the host nation of Great Britain tomorrow! The time is still to be determined (depends on the media).
During our breaks, we try to follow our men’s team as well. They have been doing well and so we are both looking forward to a great finish.
I’m still having a great time here but now that the games began, spare time and breaks are very rare occasions. There’s always something that needs to be done: practice, a game, team meetings, therapy etc.
If you’d like to check our game time for quarterfinals later, you can do so here: http://www.london2012.com/paralympics/wheelchair-basketball/schedule-and-results/day=4-september/all-day.html
Today, we beat France 76-32. We started slow and it took us some time to pull away, nevertheless our success was never really in doubt.
Tomorrow, we will play China in an early 10.45 a.m. game. The few times we played them this summer, we always beat them. But as every game, we have to play well to win here in London.
There’s many good and close games going which shows what great amount of talent is among most teams on the women’s and men’s side. Only the teams that play well can win, any bad performances are punished by the other teams right away.
Tomorrow there’ll be many interesting games besides ours as Team Germany men play against Canada, and USA men play against Australia. On the women’s side the game of Australia against the Netherlands will probably be a tough one. For a schedule, check out: london2012.com