Although she doesn’t lack in confidence,
if you told University of Texas Arlington senior Morgan Wood three years ago that she would be a national champion basketball player, she might have thought you were crazy. “I always saw it happening for the program, I just didn’t know it would be so soon,” Wood says.
Late in March, Wood and the UTA Lady Movin’ Mavs won the National Wheelchair Basketball Association National Championship in only the third full year of the program’s existence.
“It’s been a process,” says Doug Garner, the Director of Adapted Athletics at UTA and the coach for Movin’ Mavs men’s wheelchair basketball team. “The first year was a struggle, but we’ve been able to recruit and build on our success.”
Garner, who helped start the women’s program,
says a cornerstone of that success is Wood and her confidence, which is part of the reason why the Tennessee native was voted a team captain this year.
”Morgan was our first recruit,” Garner says. “We had her in mind when we started this program. The other girls call her ‘The Legend’ because she was the first one to take that leap of faith to start the program. Also, she’s a pretty good ball player.”
When the Lady Movin’ Mavs began playing in 2013, they had only five players on the roster. By the time the postseason tournament came around, they were down to four due to an illness and had to take a disqualification.
”After that first year, when we finally got up to 10 players, we started to see a lot more support from the school,” Wood says. “That was a big part of getting the team to win, getting the support and confidence from the school and our fellow students.”
Wood lived up to her nickname
this past March at the NWBA national championship in Edinboro, Pa. She led the second-ranked Lady Movin’ Mavs to a 69-47 win over No. 3 Alabama and a 65-51 win over top-ranked Illinois. In the championship game vs. the Illini, ‘The Legend’ nearly notched a triple-double with 13 points, 13 assists, and nine rebounds.
”It was an almost euphoric feeling,” Wood says. “I went in with no nerves. I felt like we would win from the beginning. We were all really confident in this team. I had never felt like that, that we would win from the beginning, and we dominated.”
Wood, who still has two seasons of eligibility left as a graduate student, is confident that her ‘legend’ will continue to grow with the success of her team.
”It can only go up from here,” she says. “Now the girls and I know how to win. We need to get more in-depth in our skills and continue playing as a team, but I can definitely see another championship for us.”
The next one doesn’t seem so crazy.