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Nate: Yeah, growing up I wanted, I mean, like almost every boy, I wanted to be a pro athlete somehow.
In March of 2005 I was playing basketball for my high school team and there was a bump in my leg that was starting to cause a lot of pain.
It was Osteosarcoma, which is a form of bone cancer, and I wasn’t able to play basketball anymore. My high school sports career was over.
Nate: (playing basketball) How am I supposed to get on this team, when he is real good?
Nate: Got it!
Nate: You got it “O.”
Jeremy Lade: Wheelchair basketball is, again, you know really similar to able-bodied basketball, to where there’s going to be some people that are really physical. You look at a guy like Shaq -
That’s some pretty physical play going on down there, and Nate’s like that as well, you know, he’s not afraid of some contact, and getting physical down low.
When we got some guards that don’t like the contact quite as much, you’ll see definitely a lot of banging, and Nate’s chair is heavy duty. He puts it through the riggers.
Nate: Coming to Whitewater helped me a lot because, obviously they had the wheelchair basketball team, which opened so many doors for me so far.
Jeremy: The amount of progress that Nate has made is unbelievable.
He started out 5 years ago being new to the game and then in his final year he was player of the year. He’s had some all –tournament team selections, he was on the academic all-American team,
which I think is one of the greatest honors that you can get. It just goes to show that not only is he taking care of himself on the court, but also in the classroom.
Nate: In my five years here alone, we won three national championships, in 07, 09, and this past year, 2011. This past year we went 22-1 through the season, and just had a great year, a great team. It’s a lot of fun.
Jeremy: We have a guy on our team who’s missing his toes. He was actually run over by truck when he was younger.
He doesn’t have a limp, you would never know he has a disability, and then we have people who use a wheelchair every day.
You know like Nate Heinz, who had cancer, he has a titanium shin, and he’s got a limp, but he doesn’t use a wheelchair everyday. He’s just limited in the amount of things he can do in terms of able-bodied sports.
Nate: The guys here, they’re great. I mean they’re practically like brothers.
We come in and we work out every day, we hang out everyday. When you come to practice at six in the morning its not even work,
ts you’re hanging out with your friends and getting better at basketball, and that’s really all it is, its not, it doesn’t feel too bad.
Makes waking up at six in the morning a lot easier when you win a championship.
Nate: (To Kids) Guys, you have got to play some defense, Sean get in there! Go Alfredo! Sean, get back there! There, now go the other way. C’mon Oz!
Nate: Cannot run, I can’t hop, I can’t jump, I can’t skip, so a lot of the tools that I would need as a physical education teacher I can’t do,
but that just is one way that I need to verbalize more, and teach more.
Jeremy: In the world of wheelchair athletics, and the world of wheelchair basketball, we hear the term “inspirational” thrown around quite a bit.
Everyone’s got their adversity, everyone’s got some disability they had to overcome, and everyone has their story, but I think Nate is really unique,
in that he’s overcome his disability, and been successful in such a short amount of time.
We talk about that five years since he’s been playing the sport, now he’s on the U.S. National team. That really says something about his character,
and you know I think character is built in the way you overcome adversity. And that says a lot about Nate, where he is today.