Congrats to Becca Murray…ESPY Award-Winner!

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Becca Murray, a University of Wisconsin-Whitewater alumna and national champion women’s wheelchair basketball athlete, was named Best Athlete with a Disability in Women’s Sports at the 2021 ESPY Awards in New York City on July 10.  Murray was picked from four finalists, all of them Paralympians: Sam Bosco, cycling; Oksana Masters, Nordic and cycling; and Leanne Smith, swimming.

“I guess I never took myself to be one of those athletes,” said Murray of other wheelchair basketball athletes who have been ESPY nominees. “So I was super excited to find out I was nominated.”

The ESPY Awards were presented on ABC, and recognized individual and team athletic achievements and other sports-related performances.  Murray did not travel to the event and instead posted a 19-second video on the National Wheelchair Basketball Association Facebook page thanking her wheelchair basketball “family.”

“Being good at basketball gets your name out there, but I’ve always wanted to be that athlete who brought their teammates along with them,” said Murray, several days after the awards ceremony. “That makes the difference between a good basketball player and a player who is remembered.”

The quiet athlete from Germantown came to UW-Whitewater as a freshman in 2008, already a member of Team USA, which had gold-medaled that September at the Paralympic Games in Beijing. Murray, a special education major, became a cornerstone of a newly established women’s wheelchair basketball team at the university.  As a player for the Warhawks, Murray was patient, unflappable and as essential to the team as the hub is to a wheel. Her individual statistics confounded one coach, who noticed she posted higher percentages in games, where she had real opponents, than in practices, where she did not. Murray didn’t fold under pressure — she got better. One close friend, another Warhawk athlete, at first felt intimidated by all of that talent, which surprises Murray.

“It is funny when I hear those stories because I don’t see myself as intimidating,” she said. “No one is better than another person. And so I take the time when people approach me and want to talk. And they see I’m just a down-to-earth person.”

Murray, who graduated in 2014, works as a clinical assistant at Rogers Behavioral Health in Brown Deer, Wisconsin. For the 2021 Paralympic Games held in Tokyo Aug. 25-Sept. 5, she plans to take a two-week vacation just to view the live broadcasts of Team USA, which will likely air in the middle of the night, local time.

“I enjoyed my time at UW-Whitewater and being a part of that wheelchair basketball family,” said Murray. “There was something special about that team. There are always your highs and lows. But we would always pull together, and that would make us stronger.”

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