Men’s wheelchair basketball tournament features national teams from U.S., Spain, Japan
U.S. Paralympians who played for the Movin’ Mavs are returning to campus as part of the 2019 Toyota USA Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Showdown featuring Team USA, Team Japan, Team Spain and a local team that includes members of the Movin’ Mavs.
The tournament is June 20-25 at The University of Texas at Arlington’s Maverick Activities Center and Prosper High School.
The Showdown will serve as a tune-up for Team USA for the 2019 ParaPan American Games scheduled from Aug. 23 to Sept. 1 in Lima, Peru. The 2019 ParaPan American Games are the qualifying event for Team USA for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
Mike Paye, Aaron Gouge and Jorge Sanchez—all current Team USA members who will play in the Showdown—are former Movin’ Mavs whose hard work produced several national championships for the UTA wheelchair basketball team.
Doug Garner, coach of the Movin’ Mavs, said it’s great getting some of his former players back to campus.
“Many of them come back to help coach, run camps and offer advice to the current players,” Garner said. “They’re family, not just former Movin’ Mavs.”
Sanchez said he’s excited about going to a place “where I grew up as a person both on and off the court. A lot of my memories and friendships were made at UTA. I am excited to be returning now representing the USA Paralympic team, and I’m looking forward to putting on a show for everyone.”
Gouge, who still lives in the area, said this won’t be his first return visit to UTA. He mentors current Movin’ Mavs, talking to them about game strategy, opponents’ tendencies and how to cope with life’s challenges.
“UTA has always been a huge part of my life because of the time I spent here,” Gouge said. “I want to see these guys get as much out of it as I did.”
Paye is coming from perhaps the furthest of Team USA members—Giessen, Germany, where he plays professionally.
“I have always called UTA and Texas another home of mine,” said Paye, who is co-captain of Team USA. “I am lucky to say I have some lifelong friends here. And I always keep an eye out for young talent abroad and let them know how they can get an education at UTA while playing basketball at a high level.”
All games are free and open to the public.