Chicago

‘That’s What I Love’: Chicago Teen Makes Basketball Wheelchair Nationals Team

The now 13-year-old is breaking all sorts of barriers this year—the only girl on her team and the youngest player to place on the 17-member U.S. Nationals team

She was just 7 years old when she started playing on the court.

Even after being diagnosed with Femoral Anteversion, which limited physical activity on her feet, Ixhelt Gonzalez said she quickly fell in love with wheelchair basketball.

The now 13-year-old is breaking all sorts of barriers this year—the only girl on her team and the youngest player to place on the 17-member U.S. Nationals team.

“When she gets on the court, she’s ferocious,” said Chicago Park District Coach Daniel Ferreira.

Gonzalez is in a program with the district and the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Adaptive Sports Program in Chicago.

“I love when you fall over, (the) great feeling, rush of excitement, fear,” Gonzalez expressed. “That's what I love.”

Although five players won’t make the final cut, simply getting to nationals in April is a huge move into her future.

“From there maybe (it’s an) opening for her to qualify in Tokyo for the 2020 Paralympic games,” said her mother, Tomasa Gonzalez.

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