Junior Carter Arey will be taking his talents to Colorado Springs, Colo., from May 28 to June 2 after he was named one of 28 wheelchair basketball players selected to try out for the U.S. Men's Wheelchair Basketball Team.
"There was an overwhelming amount of support immediately, and that kind of took the forefront of my attention, and I realized what kind of accomplishment this is," Arey said.
"Relief" is the one word Arey said sums up his feelings after hearing the announcement.
“I started this sport with the goal of making Team USA, and for the last month, I’ve been waiting for this day specifically,” Arey said. “It was a lot of angst and a lot of nervousness and a lot of weight on my shoulder, and it all went away.”
Arey started playing wheelchair basketball after being spotted at the MU Student Recreation Complex by Ron Lykins, the MU wheelchair basketball team coach.
“I snuck into the MizzouRec with my buddy’s ID, and that day coach Lykins spotted me from across the court and told me, ‘You’re playing the wrong sport,’” Arey said. “He told me I’m eligible for wheelchair basketball. I never knew about it since I was able to keep up with able-bodied sports. He threw me in a chair that day, and I was intrigued and challenged right away.”
Lykins has watched Arey develop each day and commends him on his work ethic.
“I know he's worked hard for this, and it was something he really wanted to do," Lykins said. "And he's done a really good job getting ready for this."
Arey said he attributes his success in the sport to Lykins.
“(Coach Lykins) has instilled an extra level of work into me on top of what I already had,” Arey said. “I haven’t learned a move — I haven’t learned a philosophy other than his.”
Arey is already preparing for his tryout, which is only 25 days away.
“I read the list of names I was next to, and it included some of the biggest names in the sport," Arey said. "I don’t want to be starstruck because this is my Team USA tryout. There are a dozen of professionals within that list, so I’ll study their game film more specifically. I’ll get myself more mentally prepared than hopefully anybody else there. The goal is to be overly prepared.”
Lykins, who will also be coaching the USA Paralympics men’s basketball team, wished the best of luck to Arey at the tryout.
“We definitely want the best players there, and if he happens to be one of them, I'll be happy for him,” Lykins said. “I hope he does well, but he has to earn it.”
Arey said he is more than ready for the challenge that the tryout holds.
“(Wheelchair basketball) evolved into a lifestyle rather than a hobby,” Arey said. “And the goal is to make it to the next level, the elite level.”