CHARLOTTE (Steve Goldberg's Wheel World) - There have been a number of turns on the national team level coaching carousel since Rio. Both head coaches from the women's gold medal game have moved on and there will be new faces looking to revive past glory on other benches as well.
A realist who could be simultaneously disappointed and optimistic, Glinicki commented after the Rio final, "It is a shame in one way when you lose the last game but it's also good when you win the silver medal."
As impressive as Germany's run was, the USA's Stephanie Wheeler, as far as I can ascertain, is the first female and possibly overall person to win Paralympic basketball gold as both a player and coach. Also the head coach for the University of Illinois women's team, Wheeler decided to focus more domestically over the next four years. If she can get the Illini women, for whom she already achieved a national title as a player, back on top, she will accomplish the double there as well.
Wheeler is passing the reins to her assistant coach from the Rio campaign, Trooper Johnson, who had previously an assistant coach for the 2013 USA men's U23 team and head coach of the 2013 USA women's U21 squad that won gold at the Junior ParaPan American Games in Argentina. As a player, Johnson won two bronze medals in four Paralympic Games from 1992 to 2004.
His first charge on the way to Tokyo 2020 is getting the Americans to the World Championships that will be hosted in Hamburg, Germany in August 2018. That road will run through the qualification tournament for the Americas in Cali, Colombia this summer.
Being a part of the NWBA program has been a huge part of my life and I am extremely excited for the opportunity to lead the team over the next four years. - Trooper Johnson
"We have so much talent here in the United States and I am confident that we will be able to develop the team over the next few years to be back on the podium in Tokyo," said Johnson.
Taking the helm from Glinicki is Martin Otto who has been on the bench for the RBC Cologne 99ers the past five years. He represented Germany as a player in the Sydney and Athens Paralympic Games.
Also of note is who will be sitting next to him. Janet McLachlan, who has been Canada's weapon of mass destruction for the past decade is retiring from one national team as she joins the brain trust of another. McLachlan is no stranger to the German game, having played there professionally for the Doneck Dolphins Trier and the Rhine River Rhinos in Wiesbaden.
"Ever since my university career, I had the desire to work as a trainer," said McLachlan. "I was very surprised and honored that Martin Otto called me. I am very happy about the opportunity to work with Martin and the German women's team."
Hey, you're famous!
Off the court, two individuals are being honored for their body of work.
A long time servant of the game and currently IWBF Secretary General, Maureen Orchard has been listed among the 2017 class of inductees into the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame. She will be inducted in the builder category at a ceremony on April 7 in Ottawa.
"Maureen has been a dedicated leader and a driving force behind the international growth and development of wheelchair basketball," said Wheelchair Basketball Canada Executive Director Wendy Gittens. "We are grateful for her unparalleled contributions to the sport and to the Paralympic movement in Canada."
Orchard, a native of Winnipeg, Man., served as president of the IWBF from 2002-2014, where she championed the ongoing development of wheelchair basketball across all four international zones.
Coincidentally, it was just announced that Stephanie Wheeler will be inducted to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in May. The Norlina, North Carolina native will join a rich group of basketball royalty that includes Michael Jordan, Bobby Jones, David Thompson, Charlotte Smith, Andrea Stinson, Curly Neal, Meadowlark Lemon, and Dean Smith.
Congratulations to both of them on these well-deserved honors.