With a historic invitation to the 2022 Selection Camp for the U.S. National Wheelchair Women Basketball Team, Queens College student Seira Garcia has become the first CUNY student-athlete to be invited to a Team USA test in any sport.
The selection will take place on 12-16. April at the US Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO.
“I had to read the email three times to make sure it was right,” Garcia said when she received the news of her invitation to try for Team USA.
Garcia credits her family, especially her mother, for instilling in her a sense of purpose. Her mother’s often repeated mantra, “The mind is stronger than anything else,” continues to sustain Garcia.
Even after seven surgeries and overcoming a host of other challenges, she remains determined and positive, she said.
“Life can be great if you allow it,” Garcia said.
Garcia was born in Florida and raised in Puerto Rico. At the age of 7, she was diagnosed with Legg-Calve-Perthes, a degenerative disease that affects the hip joint.
The condition forced her to stop playing standing basketball in 2014 when she was 17 years old. She soon discovered wheelchair basketball and began playing with the Federación de Baloncesto en Silla de Ruedas de Puerto Rico (FEBASIRU), Puerto Rico’s wheelchair basketball team.
In 2016, Garcia also played for amateur clubs the Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty, sponsored by local NBA and WNBA franchises.
Garcia, a junior specializing in urban studies at Queens College, has been a major contributor to Team CUNY, which is currently in its first year competing in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA). Garcia is Team CUNY’s leading scorer with an average of 16.5 points per game. match.
The men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball team, the first of their kind in the Northeast, was launched as a result of a 2017 City University of New York Athletic Conference Inclusive and Adaptive Sports Initiative for Recreational Intercollegiate Sports and Competitive Athletics. The Wheelchair Basketball program is based at Queens College and Hostos Community College.
Garcia started playing for CUNY’s wheelchair basketball team after Ryan Martin, CUNY’s director of inclusive and adaptive sports, reached out and persuaded her to join in 2020.
“We are delighted that Seira was invited to compete for a spot with Team USA. She has had a fantastic first season and has been an important part of the launch of the women’s team at CUNY,” said Martin. her and we wish her the best of luck when she starts her international career. ”
Queens College President Frank Wu congratulated Garcia.
“Seira demonstrates what’s possible when we prioritize inclusion. It provides life-changing opportunities and builds futures,” said Queens College President Frank Wu. “We are deeply proud of Seira’s achievements as a student and athlete and expect that more students will be inspired to travel the path she has paved towards Team USA – and any other opportunity that it allows. Everyone at Queens College wishes her good luck; we cheer for her from here! ”
The invitation to a team selection camp puts Garcia in elite company as she will compete alongside the country’s most exceptional players. Only 29 athletes from across the country were invited to try seated basketball, and only 12 players plus three deputies will eventually be selected to participate in the Paralympic Games.
The historic success of the United States Wheelchair Basketball makes the United States the world’s most decorated national program. The men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball teams have won a total of 13 gold, two silver and eight bronze medals since the Paralympic Games began in 1960, making the United States the top-scoring nation in general. The American men won the gold medal at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, and the women took home the bronze.
After graduating from Queens College, Garcia plans to pursue a master’s degree in psychology and pursue a doctorate in sports psychology. She hopes to provide outreach contact to improve the lives of the homeless and those recovering from addiction.