May 17, 2011
Christian Basi, BasiC@missouri.edu, 573-882-4430
By Brad Fischer
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Joe Dixon, a high school senior from Lakeville, Minn., and Robert Doyle, a high school senior from Eden Prairie, Minn., are the newest members of the Mizzou Wheelchair Basketball Team.
Dixon and Doyle played on the Courage Center Junior Rolling Timberwolves, who were the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) varsity national champions in 2008, 2009 and 2010. This year, the team finished third at the national tournament, and Dixon was named to the all-tournament team.
Dixon and Doyle also bring extensive international experience to MU. Both played with the under-20 national team in 2009 in the Australian Paralympic Youth Games in Melbourne, Australia. The team won the gold medal, as it went undefeated against five Australian teams.
Dixon was born with Spina Bifida and has played wheelchair basketball for years. Twice, he has participated in the Elite Camp that features the top 24 junior players in the world. Eventually, Dixon hopes to play on the U.S. National Team in the Paralympics. He also was named to the NWBA Northern Division All-Academic Team. Dixon plans to pursue a degree in broadcast journalism at MU.
“Joe is one of the top players in the country,” Mizzou Wheelchair Basketball Head Coach Ron Lykins said. “He is a great addition to our program. His experience and success against top competition gives him the opportunity to excel and reach his goals.”
Doyle plans to major in finance and minor in economics at MU. He has played wheelchair basketball since he became paralyzed due to a malformed artery that limited blood flow to his spinal cord.
“We are excited that Robert will be playing for Mizzou next fall,” Lykins said. “Offensively, he knows how to get post players in scoring position, which is a very important part of our offense. With his work ethic and desire to win, Robert has the potential to develop into one of the top Class I players in the country.”
In the sport, players are classified into three categories. Class I players have a complete motor loss, Class II players may have some motor power of hips and thighs, and Class III players have other physical disabilities related to lower extremity paralysis or lower extremity amputees. Downes classifies as class III. Because the level of disability can vary greatly among players, each classification is given a numerical value. Class I has one point, class II has two points and class III has three points. A team may not have players on the court whose total points are greater than 12.
Mizzou Wheelchair Basketball team student-athletes challenge themselves not just athletically, but academically, balancing the many demands of the college classroom with the demands of the basketball court. During this past season, the team boasted a cumulative 3.18 GPA. Previously, MU opened a new fitness room to accommodate the TWB team. The Mizzou Wheelchair Basketball Team Fitness Center offers players a private workout area complete with ergometers and weight-lifting equipment.
Last season, Mizzou Wheelchair Basketball finished with an 18-12 record and took fifth in the NWBA Intercollegiate Tournament. The team won the Mizzou Classic championship and captured second at the Gorilla Invitational in Pittsburg, Kan. MU was led by second-team All-American Connor Downes, a former teammate of Dixon and Doyle with the Junior Rolling Timberwolves.
Visit http://www.mizzourec.org/programs/wheelchair_basketball/ to learn more about Mizzou Wheelchair Basketball.