University News

Where Paralympians are made: Warhawks ready to compete at Paris 2024 Games

April 10, 2024

Written by Chris Lindeke | Photos by Craig Schreiner

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball teams will be well represented this summer at the Paralympic Games of Paris 2024.

Eight current or former Warhawks — including six men and two women — have been selected to Team USA for the Games, which are scheduled to take place from August 28 to September 8 in Paris, France. Both teams qualified for the Paralympic Games by winning the 2023 Parapan American Games in Santiago, Chile, in November.

Members of the Team USA men with ties to UW-Whitewater include:


Paralympians and Warhawk alumni stand on the UW-Whitewater football field.

Paralympians and Warhawk alumni who were members of the gold medal Team USA men's wheelchair basketball team are celebrated during the football game on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2021. From left, John Boie, Matt Lesperance and Nate Hinze along with Christina Schwab, an assistant coach for the team. Also playing on Team USA in 2021 were alumni Jake Williams and Matt Scott and alumna Lindsey Zurbrugg, a member of the bronze medal Team USA women's wheelchair basketball team.


Williams, Fitzpatrick, Jourdan, Boie, and Meyer were part of Team USA’s first-place showing at Parapan American Games earlier this year. Williams seeks his third Paralympic gold medal, while Boie tries for his second. Fitzpatrick, Jourdan, and Meyer are set to make their Paralympic debuts.


Warhawk wheelchair basketball athletes hold their national champion trophy.

Head coach and Paralympian Jake Williams, left, holds the national champion trophy with most of the men’s wheelchair basketball team after the Parade of Champions, where UW-Whitewater and the Whitewater Fire Department honored national champion athletes in men’s wheelchair basketball, gymnastics and track-and-field on Wednesday, Apr. 3, 2024.


Williams, Fitzpatrick, and Jourdan led the UW-Whitewater men to the program’s 14th National Wheelchair Basketball Association national championship last month.

Hinze rejoins Team USA for his fourth Paralympic appearance, looking for his third gold and fourth medal overall.

“You know a lot of guys went to UW-Whitewater and played at UW-Whitewater, but you don’t put the pieces together until the team is announced,” Williams said. “You look around and six of these guys are here, and it’s a mix of veterans and new guys.

“I don’t think there’s any other school that’s had this many at once. It’s an amazing accomplishment.”

Members of the Team USA women who are former Warhawks include Becca Murray, who earned a BSE in special education with minors in athletic coaching and psychology in 2014, and Lindsey Zurbrugg, who earned a BSE in physical education with a minor in athletic coaching in 2021.


Becca Murray practices on a indoor basketball court.

Becca Murray, center, at practice at UW-Whitewater on January 16, 2014.


Murray seeks her third Paralympic gold and fourth overall medal, while Zurbrugg hopes to earn her first gold and second Paralympic medal. Schwab claimed three Paralympic gold medals as an athlete in 2004, 2008 and 2016.


Lindsey Zurbrugg smiles and holds up her silver medal.

UW-Whitewater women's wheelchair basketball player Lindsey Zurbrugg is shown with the silver medal she received as a member of Team USA at the Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru, in August 2019. She played as a Warhawk in 2019-20 and was a part of the bronze-medal winning Team USA at the Tokyo Games in 2021.


In addition, Christina Schwab, former Warhawk women’s wheelchair basketball coach and current First Year Experience office team member who earned an MSE in professional studies in 2021, will serve as head coach of the Team USA women. Former Warhawk Desiree Miller, who earned an M.S. on counseling in 2014, will be an assistant coach on Schwab’s staff.

Former Warhawk Josie DeHart, who earned a BSE in physical education with a minor in athletic coaching in 2022, was selected as an alternate for the Team USA women.

All five women were part of Team USA’s gold medal performance at the 2023 Parapan American Games.


Two people smile and hug.

At a reception for wheelchair basketball teams from around the country, Paralympian Desiree Miller, center, is reunited with friends and former Warhawk teammates including Sammy White and Lydia Sprain, in March 2017.


In addition, four other former Warhawks will represent their respective countries in Paris. Sammy White, who earned a BBA in information technology in 2016 and an MSE in professional studies in 2018, is hoping that, after the country’s selection camp takes place in June, he will be selected to represent his native Australia at the games.

Former Warhawks Mareike (Adermann) Miller, who earned a BBA in general management with a minor in coaching in 2013, and Vanessa Erskine, who earned a BSE in physical education in recreation and leisure studies in 2015, are women’s national team members for Germany, which looks to qualify for Paris later this month.

Former Warhawk Mariska Beijer, who earned a BBA in marketing in 2017, will play for the Netherlands.


Mareike Miller smiles and looks at her gold medal.

Mareike Miller shows her gold medal from the London 2012 Paralympic Games on November 21, 2012.


Schwab, who coached the UW-Whitewater women from 2016-22 and coached Zurbrugg for five years, was an assistant coach for the Team USA men at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. She took over as head coach of the Team USA women in December 2021.

“If I’m ever in Roseman, I love to brag about all the flags hanging in there,” Schwab said. “We have all these former student-athletes representing at the international games. I don’t know that another school has so much representation.

“It speaks to the development on our campus in wheelchair basketball — we have new people and veterans on both the men’s and women’s squads.”


Christina Schwab smiles and shoes her gold medal to the camera.

Christina Schwab is shown with the gold medal she won as a member of the 2016 U.S. Women's Wheelchair Basketball Team at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Schwab has gold medals from two previous Paralympic Games, in Athens and Beijing.


Both teams will engage in training camps and international “friendlies” — or exhibition games — in the coming months.

More than 4,400 athletes and 3 million spectators are expected to experience the Paralympic Games in Paris this summer.

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