“The Final Four” isn’t the only national basketball championship worth celebrating. Minnesotans claimed a basketball championship in Louisville, Ky., April 5 when the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute’s Junior Rolling Timberwolves Varsity wheelchair basketball team won the national title. The Wolves beat the Utah Rec N’ Crew 76-61.
“It was truly an honor to work with these athletes, parents, coaches and volunteers this season. Thank you all for a great year of wheelchair basketball!” said Cara Gulbronson, wheelchair sports program coordinator.
“It is great to see so many of our athletes grow up and learn teamwork, independence and confidence. Currently, eight out of the nine members of the varsity level Junior Rolling Timberwolves came up through the ranks, starting on our prep team,” said Gulbronson.
Three departing seniors on the championship team received special tournament honors. Rose Hollermann of Waterville was named MVP of the championship game as well as female MVP for the varsity division. A member of the 2010 Team USA Paralympic Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team, Hollermann recently signed a letter of intent and wheelchair basketball scholarship to attend the University of Texas-Arlington. She attends Waterville-Elysian-Morristown High School.
Josie Aslakson of Jordan was named to the female all-tournament team, varsity division, and first team all-academic with a 4.2 grade-point average. Aslakson also will be attending University of Texas-Arlington with a wheelchair basketball scholarship. She attends Jordan High School.
Steve Eischens of Victoria received the Neal Radbel Sportsmanship Award for the varsity division. He was also named to the all-academic second team for the varsity division. Eischens recently signed a letter of intent and wheelchair basketball scholarship to attend Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall. He is a student at Chanhassen High School.
The Junior Rolling Timberwolves were one of three Courage Kenny teams in the tournament. The Rolling Rowdies finished in third place after a tough loss to the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks went on to win the national championship in the prep division. The Institute’s Junior Rolling Gophers competed and finished in 13th place.
Several other athletes won awards at the tournament. Marissa Bartels, Delano High School, was named to the all-academic second team for the varsity division. Honors were also won in junior varsity and prep competitions. Abby Donkers of Faribault, who attends Kenyon-Wanamingo High School, was named an all-academic honorable mention, junior varsity division. Dan Kosanda, Maple Grove High School, was named to the all-academic second team for the junior varsity division.
Jack Pierre, Edina, was named to the all-tournament first team, prep division. Emilee Gustafson, Monticello, was named female most valuable player, prep division. Jade Carley, New Brighton, was named to the all-tournament female team, prep division.
Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health, was created in 2013 by the merger of Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute and Courage Center. The Institute provides a continuum of rehabilitation services for people with short- and long-term conditions, injuries and disabilities in communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. The institute’s sports and recreation department offers many activities that serve people of all ages, abilities and interests. One of the largest endeavors is wheelchair basketball.
More than 50 participants compete on four wheelchair basketball teams: the Rolling Rowdies, Junior Rolling Gophers, Junior Rolling Timberwolves and Adult Rolling Timberwolves.