Senior wheelchair basketball Player aims to make impact on and off the court

By Thomas Polcyn

Senior wheelchair basketball player Christina Young came to the University of Illinois for work and or play.

Young majors in kinesiology and pre-occupational therapy, and minors in Speech and Hearing Science. She hopes those degrees will propel her into a career as a occupational therapist.

Along with her off-court aspirations, Young also plays an important role at the 1.5 position for the Illini. The position is similar to a guard role, where her job is mainly to facilitate and get the ball to the forwards down low.

A native of Cartersville, Georgia, Young began playing basketball with her brothers at home when she was seven. Shortly after, her mother found an adaptive sports program in the area called BlazeSports America. The program is very competitive and travels throughout the country to play in top national tournaments.

“We traveled all over the country to different states for tournaments with different teams,” Young said.

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Ever since beginning her career at Blaze Sports, Young has not turned back. Playing in college wasn’t necessarily a goal of Young’s, but when the opportunity presented itself, she could not pass it up.

“I’ve played basketball my whole life, and I loved it,” Young said. “I went to camps (at Illinois) where (coach Stephanie Wheeler) recruited me. I realized the opportunity and thought it would be a great chance to continue playing basketball and pursue my academic goals.”

Young’s favorite part of basketball is helping her teammates to score. Through setting screens and making passes, she does whatever she can to get the forwards down low an open shot.

After their success last season and a trip to the national title game, the Illini ultimately have just one goal this season: win the national championship. Young and her teammates believe the goal is completely attainable.

The women’s wheelchair basketball team will begin their quest for the national championship in two weeks on Oct. 29, where it will head to Toronto for a tournament at the Wheelchair Basketball Academy.

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