Alabama Adapted Athletics represents in Tokyo


Courtesy of Kellcie Temple

The Alabama women’s wheelchair basketball team celebrates winning the NWBA Collegiate Wheelchair National Championship for the 2020-2021 season.

Ashlee Woods | @ashleemwoods, Sports Editor

Alabama Adapted Athletics announced on Saturday that 18 current and former student-athletes will participate in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games between Aug. 24 and Sept. 5. 

Six current and 12 former student-athletes will represent the Crimson Tide. 


Wheelchair Tennis 

Alabama alumna Shelby Baron is representing the United States in the women’s wheelchair tennis event in Tokyo. Baron earned two degrees from the Capstone: a bachelor’s degree in communicative disorders and a master’s degree in speech-language pathology. 

She is no stranger to the Olympic stage, having also competed in the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. Baron reached the round of 16 for singles and the quarterfinals in the doubles event.

Despite being a last-minute addition to the Rio team, she represented the stars and stripes well. 

“I would not have been able to achieve this goal without the support from the University,” Baron said to UA News. “This year will be a lot different, but I look forward to being able to represent both my University and country in Tokyo.” 

Baron was also coaching Alabama while training for the Games.

“Training was difficult at times because I was trying to give my best effort to coaching the UA team at practice and competitions,” Baron said to UA News. “However, I learned a lot of things from coaching and that has made me a better athlete. I am trying to be a good role model for the athletes so they push themselves to become better both on and off the court.” 


Women’s Wheelchair Basketball 

The Crimson Tide is sending a host of current and former Alabama wheelchair basketball players to Tokyo. One of those athletes is sophomore Bailey Moody, who is competing in her first Paralympic Games. However, this is not Moody’s first time representing Team USA. Moody was on the 2018 World Championships team, which placed sixth overall. 

Moody impressed during her freshman year at Alabama. She proved to be a fierce competitor. This helped the women’s wheelchair basketball team win the NWBA Collegiate Wheelchair Basketball National Championship in March — the Crimson Tide’s second consecutive title. 

Now, Moody turns her attention to the Paralympics. In an article released by UA News, she discussed what it’s like to accomplish her dream of reaching the Games. 

“There is great pride that comes with playing for a team, especially one that competes at such a high level,” Moody said. “The feeling that you get when you wear USA across your chest is unlike anything else. I love to play basketball and I am so thankful for the opportunity I have had to work hard, keep getting better and keep competing against the best athletes in the world.” 

To compete at the highest level, Mooday said mental preparation is just as important as physical. 

“The training process before and after qualification is a full-time job in and of itself,” Moody said. “Even when I’m not playing basketball, I am doing something that is furthering my ability to improve. Whether that is eating right, doing mental preparations or watching film, much of my time is spent working towards my sport.”

Moody will compete with teammates Lindsey Zurbrugg and Abby Bauleke in the Group B section of the competition. 


Men’s Wheelchair Basketball 

Ignacio Ortega will represent the Crimson Tide in the men’s wheelchair basketball event. Ortega is a senior at Alabama majoring in international studies. In Tokyo, he will represent Spain.

Ortega has been a cornerstone of the men’s team at Alabama. This past season, he helped the Crimson Tide reach the title game of the Men’s Collegiate Wheelchair Basketball Championships. Alabama fell 66-51, to University of Texas-Arlington. 

Just a few months later, Ortega helped Spain win the U23 European Championship. Ortega was the star of the show. He scored 35 points and snagged 28 rebounds in the title game against Germany. After his monster performance, Ortega told the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation how hard Spain had been working for this moment. 

“We’ve been working so hard and working for so many years,” Ortega told IWBF. “Working hard as a team and coming here and doing good, and hoping for more, and today we actually got it. We played an incredible tournament and I think we deserve it.”

In July, Ortega qualified for his first Paralympic Games. Ortega and Team Spain will compete against the Republic of Korea, Canada, Colombia, Turkey and Japan in the qualifying rounds in late August. 

Alabama students and fans can catch these three athletes and 15 others at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games starting Aug. 24. The Games will be broadcast on NBC and Peacock.