Crete native and Syracuse resident competes in Tokyo Paralympics
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - From the town of Crete, to the city of Tokyo, one Nebraska native is making major moves at the 2020 Paralympics. It’s her fourth time competing at the Paralympics, but she said it’s just as special as the first.
For Natalie Schneider, basketball has always been one of her first loves, but after graduating from Doane University, she took that love to a whole new level. More than 6,000 miles away, she’s competing in wheelchair basketball once again, hoping to bring a medal home to Nebraska.
Schneider said she grew up playing basketball and always had “big dreams.” When she was 16, things took a turn. Schneider was diagnosed with bone cancer in her femur.
“They said, ‘By the way, you’ll never run and jump again.” She went through chemo and had surgery to remove the tumor. “We were able to save the leg. My entire knee joint and part of my femur is now entirely titanium, and it’s rotted,” Schneider said.
She thought her days of playing sports had ended, but then, she turned to adaptive sports, starting with sitting volleyball and moved on to wheelchair basketball.
“Some of the guys were like you know you could be playing at the USA level, and I was like that’s crazy.” Now, as a 4-time-Paralympian, Schneider’s competed in Beijing, London and Rio. This year, she’s giving it her all in Tokyo.
“You walk in at opening ceremonies and the crowd just goes insane, even though they’ve been cheering for every team that’s come in the door.”
Schneider’s a wife and a mom of three daughters and said they’re the ones that keep her going. “I want to really show them what you can accomplish and that they should have big dreams. Do the work, and you can do anything.”
10/11 NOW asked her if she’s putting her ball away anytime soon, and she told us, “As long as the game keeps being fun, and I can keep playing at this level, I’m just going to keep doing it.”
Schneider said she hopes her story reaches younger generations, “Try everything, and then when you find something that you like or love, just keep working really hard at it. You’ll be amazed at how far you can go.”
Schneider told 10/11 that she’s amazed at how much the Paralympics have progressed and believes even more people will support the games moving forward.
Next, Schneider and the rest of her team will take on Germany, competing for the bronze in wheelchair basketball. She said as always, she’s excited to get back to her family and friends Nebraska.
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