Zurbrugg qualifies for Paralympics


UW-Whitewater photo/Craig Schreiner

UW-Whitewater women’s wheelchair basketball player Lindsey Zurbrugg is shown with the silver medal she received as a member of Team USA at the Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru, in August 2019. She will play as a Warhawk in 2019-20 and hopes to qualify again for Team USA ahead of the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

Miranda Christensen, Sports Journalist

The simplest thing can change a person’s life forever. For Lindsey Zurbrugg, a student-athlete at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, it was stretching too far during yoga at a basketball camp when she was 13. She injured her spinal cord, which left her paralyzed within 36 hours and impacted her life in ways she could never imagine. Zurbrugg didn’t let her injury keep her from being successful in life and in sports.

Zurbrugg, a senior Health and Human Performance major at Whitewater, started playing wheelchair basketball at 14 with some teams around her area, seeing it as a way to continue her passion for the game.

“I didn’t see why I couldn’t just because I acquired a disability,” she said.

Her dedication to the newfound sport led her to enroll at Whitewater and play for the wheelchair basketball team under one of her heroes, head coach of the Warhawks and three-time Paralympic gold medalist Christina Schwab.

UW-Whitewater was a top program to Zurbrugg. She called it the “Duke of the wheelchair basketball schools.”

Zurbrugg enjoyed a successful career at Whitewater, eventually getting noticed as a prospective member of Team USA’s paralympic squad.

She took her chance, and earned a spot on the team, which eventually saw her qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

Being selected for Team USA opened Zurbrugg’s eyes to the different levels of the sport.

“Oh shoot, this is actually big league stuff,” she said. “It’s not just high school ball and college ball, there’s Team USA ball.”

The things that got Zurbrugg to the point of being selected as one of the 12 best wheelchair basketball players in the country shine through even playing at Whitewater.

“She brings an infectious energy and works hard to be the best she can be in our sport,” said Schwab. “She serves as a great example of dedication to the younger student-athletes coming into the team each year.”

Schwab also noted Zurbrugg’s contribution to the program off the court.

“Zurbs is a great representative of our program,” She said. “She is the type of student-athlete that is willing to put in the work on the court and in the classroom. We are proud of the work she put into her game to elevate her to the next level playing for Team USA.”

Zurbrugg’s determination and work ethic did not go unnoticed by her teammates either, with many noting how hard she works and how that drives them.

“She shows the most dedication on the team,” said Whitewater teammate Marrisa Bartels. “She’s always working out for the USA, and it carries over into the team to motivate the rest to work harder.”

For Zurbrugg, her chance to compete for a gold medal will come in 2021. While she will be wearing the red, white, and blue for Team USA, she will also be representing the dark purple of Whitewater.

Team USA member Lindsey Zurbrugg (Team USA)