HOUSTON — A local youth wheelchair basketball team is preparing for their big moment on the court during the Final Four.
The Hotwheels, a youth wheelchair basketball team with TIRR Memorial Hermann, will show people what they've got. They were chosen to play a scrimmage in front of a massive crowd at NRG Stadium during a Final Four practice.
"Kind of shy about it," is how Lily Terral, one of the athletes describes her feelings about the event. "I'm, like, happy and, like, kind of scared at the same time cause, like, there's gonna be so many people screaming."
Terral said she hopes other kids in wheelchairs, like her, become inspired to join adaptive sports.
Oliver Cunningham, 11, said he's also excited.
"It's kind of nerve-racking, but I think it's a great way to show people and teach them about wheelchair basketball," Cunningham said.
His mother, Lacy Cunningham, said she couldn't be more proud of the team.
"For them to have an opportunity to go and just show other people what they are capable of is really exciting," Lacy Cunningham said.
Their coach, Peggy Turner, has worked with athletes with disabilities for more than 30 years. She's the Adaptive Sports Coordinator at TIRR Memorial Hermann.
"When the public comes out and looks, they're going to go, oh, look at those cute little kids in chairs. In a matter of moments, they won't see the wheelchair. They'll see the competition at hand," Turner said.
The NCAA recently recognized Turner with the Legends and Legacy award as one of five Houstonians who've made a positive impact on the community. Turner said the opportunity the young Hotwheels athletes have is so important for people in adaptive sports.
"We have an opportunity to demonstrate the competitiveness of wheelchair basketball with all 19 of our athletes doing a mixed scrimmage game so that the public can see wheelchair basketball firsthand," Turner said.
The Hotwheels team is practicing for more than just the Final Four. They've got their own national tournament in a few weeks.
"I'm happy about that. We go so we get more experience on the trips that we go on together as a team," Terral said.
"Coming from a team that never won any games to a first-year team who started winning games, I mean, that's pretty cool," Oliver Cunningham said.
Resilient is how Turner describes her team.
For now, they continue to practice to not only put on a good show but to see how far they make it as a team.
WHEN: Friday, March 31
TIMES: (All Times CT)
10 a.m. - Gates Open
10:10 - 10:30 a.m. - TIRR Memorial Hermann Hotwheels youth wheelchair basketball scrimmage
11 - 11:50 a.m. - Team 1 Practice
Noon - 12:50 p.m. - Team 2 Practice
1 - 1:50 p.m. - Team 3 Practice
2 - 2:50 p.m. - Team 4 Practice
3:30 PM - NABC All-Star Game
WHERE: NRG Stadium
COST: FREE and open to the public!