Megan Blunk, a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, began her wheelchair basketball career four years ago. Blunk went to Peninsula High School in Gig Harbor, Washington and chose to study Psychology at Illinois in hopes of becoming a counselor for those who have been injured or are living with depression. Illinois is the place Blunk was meant to be; she enjoys putting herself in uncomfortable situations and her choice of college was no different.
Outside of her commitment to the women’s wheelchair basketball team at UIUC, Blunk has qualified to compete on the 2014 USA wheelchair basketball team. Sports have always been a major part of Blunk’s life; when she was eighteen, Blunk broke her back in a motorcycle accident and became paralyzed from the waist down. During the years following her accident, Blunk worked toward building her strength and exploring new opportunities to continue being active. Basketball helped Blunk find herself after her accident; the sport gave her something to look forward to and work towards.Along with basketball, Blunk also competes on the USA Paracanoe team. Her classification is Trunk and Arms (TA), which signifies her degree of mobility and control. However since she is the only TA member of the women’s team, she often competes against more mobile athletes in the Legs, Trunk and Arms (LTA) classification.
Blunk’s favorite part about playing basketball is that it gives her the opportunity to push herself to be better in all aspects of life. Learning to shoot in pressure situations and maintain composure, as well as trusting her teammates are skills that Blunk has learned from being a member of both the Illinois and USA teams.
Being able to play on the USA team has given Blunk a whole new respect for what it takes to play for her country. Her coaches make sure that the players understand that by wearing the USA letters they are representing their entire country, and that it is their responsibility to do everything to the best of their ability. “Everywhere we go, every time we play, practice, eat, sleep, study—everything needs to be done with hard work, respect, and appreciation, and it feels really good to know you are a part of that,” Blunk said.