Team USA took women's wheelchair basketball gold at the Parapan Games, thanks in part to head coach Stephanie Wheeler, who came out as lesbian publicly a couple years ago. The United States beat Canada in the gold medal match, 80-72. Canada won the World Championship last year.
"We feel really ecstatic about how much the team improved from this time last year to this tournament we just played," Wheeler told Outsports. "From finishing fourth at World Championships a year ago to now beating the defending world champs in their home country feels great. To beat Canada on their court with 90% of the fans against us was an incredible feeling. Our team fought hard. They wanted this game.
"We're putting in the work and doing the right things. Next year when we get to Rio, we'll be ready to compete for a gold medal there."
Her team at the ParaPan Games crushed the rest of the competition at the Games, beating Peru, 88-13, and El Salvador, 77-8 (the only single-digit score of the Games, men or women).
Wheeler has been the head coach of the American team since 2013. As a player she won Paralympic gold with Team USA in 2004 and 2008. She is the head coach of the wheelchair basketball team at the Univ. of Illinois, where she has coached her team to three national titles.
Congratulations to Stephanie Wheeler and everyone associated with Team USA!