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Women’s wheelchair basketball team welcomes new season, teammates

John Mitchell

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The women’s wheelchair basketball team is preparing for the start of its season, and it’s hoping that it plays out differently than last season after losing in the championship game to Wisconsin-Whitewater for the second year in a row.

“We won three straight before I got here,” Caitlin McDermott, a junior from North Carolina, said. “The past two years we’ve gotten second.”

The two runner-up finishes are fueling the team this year.

“They’ve been pretty bad losses,” McDermott said. “So I think we are ready to beat them.”

The team lost 63-34 to Whitewater in 2012 and then fell 56-41 last year. They got closer last season, but another double-digit loss was a frustrating end to the season.

For this season, the team is welcoming a few newcomers, including freshman Jude Hamer from England, who plays on the national team there. Hamer decided to leave home to come overseas due to the many college opportunities offered for the sport and the level of competition that comes with playing for The University of Alabama.

“We have leagues and things in England, but they’re not up to the standard, and we don’t train however many times a day we do here,” Hamer said. “It’s not as professional as it is here.”

There are several members of the team with national experience, including McDermott, who played on the World Championship team for the United States in 2010.

Maude Jacques, a junior from Canada, made her decision to come to the University based on her experience playing here with the Canadian national team.

“I had tournaments here with the Canadian team,” said Jacques. “I really liked this school, and I wanted to play here.”

The national team experience will bode well for the team as it enters the season. The team has just started practices, with its first tournament coming at the end of October. The season runs all the way through March.

Wheelchair basketball has traditionally been one of the most successful club teams on campus, and it is asking for student support at the games that it will play in Tuscaloosa.

“I think it’s just about, like, publicity, trying to get people out to our games,” McDermott said. “We play Nov. 16 and Dec. 7.”

Those games will be played at the University’s Recreation Center, and the opponents have yet to be determined. There is a chance that two-time defending champion Wisconsin-Whitewater could be coming to one of them, which could very well be a preview of the championship game at the end of the season.

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Women’s wheelchair basketball team welcomes new season, teammates