CHICAGO (CBS) — A local 13-year-old has a chance to take one of 12 spots on the U.S. Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team.
CBS 2’s Audrina Bigos chatted with Ixhelt Gonzalez about her big January tryout, as well as her Paralympic dreams.
Ixhelt said her basketball journey began when she watched her big brother play, who has Cerebral Palsy.
“I actually started playing before she did, and she kind of just took over,” Guillermo Gonzalez joked.
So, one can only imagine how excited he is for his little sister to be invited to play on such a renowned team.
As for Ixhelt, she says she is excited, but also nervous. “I’m happy that I got invited, but nervous because it’s a big deal.”
It’s highly usual for an eighth-grader to receive an invitation. In fact, Ixhelt is the youngest girl to be invited this year.
“She’s just ahead of the game,” Ixhelt’s coach, Daniel Ferreira, said.
Ferreira also credits the training and coaching Ixhelt received in the Chicago Park District’s adaptive sports program.
“We want our athletes to fight that norm of what disability is in our culture,” Ferreira said.
Ixhelt was diagnosed with femoral anteversion, a painful condition in which the hip bone is turned inward.
But through her disability, Ixhelt is breaking barriers, saying she feels her best on the court in her wheelchair.
“I feel freedom. It’s like I can do whatever on the court.”
The final roster for the team will be announced in April. They’ll compete in the 2018 World Championships in Germany, and possibly the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
The coach of the women’s team says she saw Ixhelt play, saying that the teen is not only able to hold her ground, but also, in some cases, outplays the older women.