When he’s not on the basketball court, you can find 2009 Milton High School graduate John Boie in his office at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Academic Advising and Exploration Center helping students first identify their dreams, and then pursue them.
Boie has been out of the office a bit lately pursuing a longtime dream of his own: Representing Team USA on the biggest stage in amateur athletics later this summer at the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics.
Boie, 30, was named last month as one of 12 members of the U.S. wheelchair basketball team. It’s his first time making a Paralympic team, but he’s not new to international competition or representing the U.S.
Boie, after playing on the U.S. squad that won gold at the 2017 America’s Cup, was a member of the American that took home silver at the Wheelchair Basketball World Championships in Hamburg, Germany in 2018, and followed that up with a spot on the U.S. team that won gold at the Parapan Games in Lima, Peru in 2019.
With a top-3 finish in the Parapan Games, Team USA punched its ticket for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
But then the novel coronavirus had other plans.
A year later, with COVID-19 hopefully in the rear-view mirror at last, both the Tokyo Olympics and the Tokyo Paralympics are a go for later this summer.
And for Boie and his Team USA brethren, wheelchair basketball gold in the Land of the Rising Sun is a dream not denied, just delayed.
Boie is currently at the Team USA training complex in Colorado Springs. Earlier this week, he took a break to reflect on the journey that’s brought him to this point.
“It’s been a lot of training, a lot of hard work,” Boie said. “I’ve been playing wheelchair basketball since I was a little kid. And finally making it to this level is pretty awesome. It’s a surreal feeling.”
Boie, who suffered a spinal cord injury in a farming accident at age 2, has been playing wheelchair basketball since attending a UW-Whitewater camp at age 11. From those early seeds sprouted a career that led to playing on the UW-Whitewater wheelchair hoop squad and three national championships.
Along the way, Boie acquired both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in human resource management: The former coming in 2014, and the latter added to Boie’s resume in 2019.
Boie said he’s grateful for the support he’s received from UW-Whitewater as he’s pursued his hoop dreams in recent years.
As an academic advisor, Boie is responsible for more than 300 students. With the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on learning, he’s been able to keep up with his students virtually.
“I just tell my students to be patient,” Boie said with a smile.
Boie also teaches a class at UW-Whitewater for first-generation college students, offering tips and strategies for success in college.
As Boie and his teammates prepare for the trip to Tokyo, an average day features individual workouts devised by the coaches and focusing on lifting, cardio, plenty of on court work. Team camps are held every two weeks.
Being a part of the UW-Whitewater program, Boie said, gave him the foundation for where he is in the sport today.
“UW-Whitewater is basically the Duke or Kentucky of men’s wheelchair basketball,” Boie said.
Boie is just one of several UW-Whitewater alums on Team USA this time around. He’s joined by 2015 Warhawk grad Jake Williams, a member of the Team USA gold-medal winning squad from the Rio Paralympics in 2016; Nate Hinze, a three-time team member with prior appearances on the 2012 London and 2016 Rio squads; Matt Lesperance, a member of the 2008 Beijing squad; and Matt Scott, a five-time Paralympian who Boie describes as “one of the most famous wheelchair basketball players ever.”
Team USA Head Coach Ron Lykins said he and his assistants are very pleased with the 2021 squad chosen by the National Wheelchair Basketball Association, the governing body for the sport in the U.S.
“We were very pleased with how competitive this year's selection was. Without having the chance to train together in over a year and a half we picked up where we left off,” said U.S. Ron Lykins in an NWBA news release. “The twelve athletes selected give us plenty of veteran leadership that should help us have success in Tokyo. We are very excited to work with this team.”
Fans can follow Boie and the rest of Team USA’s Paralympic journey on NBCsports.com and both NBC Sports and the NBC Sports Network. You can also find him on social media, via Instagram @goodnightjohnboie.
Men’s wheelchair basketball competition begins with pool play on Aug. 25. Team USA tips off its gold medal run with a Group B matchup against Germany.
The men’s semifinals are slated for Sept. 3, with the gold medal and bronze medal games set for Sunday, Sept. 5.