CHICAGO - A Chicago 8th grader has become the youngest member of the 2018 U.S. Women's National Wheelchair Basketball Team.
"I'm very excited to be on this team and the invitation is a big deal and I'm at a young age and it's a rarity," said Ixhelt Gonzalez, who is on the roster of 17 players..
Gonzalez was diagnosed with femoral ateversion, which causes her hips and feet to twist inward but does not require her to use a wheelchair in her daily life.
"You don't have to be in a wheelchair to play wheelchair basketball," said Daniel Ferreira, adaptive sport program & event facilitator for the Chicago Park District. "You just have to have some of disability that impairs you from competing with your able bodied friends."
Chicago teen makes U.S. women's wheelchair basketball team
The 13-year-old has been playing with the Chicago Park District's Skyhawks for six years and her coaches knew she had something special.
"We saw that potential from the beginning. It was always kind of one of those dreams she had down the line, but it just became kind of a goal this year because it started moving quicker and getting that attention," said Mark Schultz, Shirley Ryan Ability Lab.
For Gonzalez, making the team was just step one to making her dreams come true.
"My No. 1 goal is to win a medal it doesn't matter what at kind of medal," said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez is now competing to be selected for one of 12 spots for the August World Championships in Germany and hopefully the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.