Tucson’s own Arizona Storm captured the 2021 Women’s Wheelchair Basketball National Championship held in Arlington, Texas on Sunday. Team USA Paralympian Courtney Ryan scored 20 points and was named tournament MVP in the 51-31 victory over the Dallas Lady Mavs at the Toyota NWBA Women’s National Tournament presented by ABC Medical.
Team USA Co-Captain and four-time Paralympian Natalie Schneider scored 19 in the final and she led the tournament in total scoring. The Storm starting lineup featured five current and former Team USA Paralympians including Ryan, Schneider, Josie Aslakson, Jennifer Poist and Gail Gaeng. Poist and Gaeng were named All-Tournament First & Second team respectively.
The Storm bench contributed points and solid defense to the win with Sarah Heinzl, Deanna Free, Rihana Ibrahim, Adrina Castro and Michelle Bautista rounding out the championship roster. Head coach Michael Beardsley and assistant coach Noah Hotchkiss bagged their first Women’s Division national title.
Arizona Storm is sponsored by Southern Arizona Adaptive Sports (SAAS) and is part of the competitive National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA). SAAS Executive Director Mia Hansen, who served as Team Representative/Manager during the tournament, said, “SAAS is thrilled to support the growth of sports for women and girls with disabilities. We are so proud of our Arizona Storm for bringing home the 2021 National Championship!”
Hansen has been with SAAS, a women & disability-led organization, since it was founded in 2017. “This team exemplifies the best of our sport and the positive impact of women’s wheelchair sports. The Arizona Storm has Paralympic women athletes, professionals, moms (Schneider is a mother of three), competing with and mentoring our young women and girls (the youngest is Castro, age 13).”
SAAS is a nonprofit organization based in Tucson providing competitive and recreational sports for people with disabilities. SAAS is supported through contributions from individuals and businesses including Citi, Jim Click Automotive, Ascension Wheelchair Lifts and MPG Automotive. SAAS receives grant funding from the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona, the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, the Luebke Family Foundation, the Tucson Conquistadores Foundation, and the VA Adaptive Sports Grant.