MAYNARD ADDS SENIOR LEADERSHIP TO BASKETBALL TEAM AHEAD OF SEASON
Sarah Maynard and her teammates were lifting weights preparing for the season opener this weekend in Tuscaloosa. She is used to the preparation, while for others, these feelings are fresh from being new to the program. Stran-Hardin Arena, where the Alabama wheelchair basketball teams train and compete, is a high-energy atmosphere with several flags hanging from the rafters representing each of the player’s homeland. There’s music blasting. Screams echoing. It’s only two days until game day.
Maynard spends almost all of her time at the athletic facility or in the classroom studying creative media. But even before that, while she was a senior at Peaster High School in Texas, she was competing in a variety of sports at the highest level.
“I was being looked at by a couple different schools like Illinois and Arizona and Adam Kramer, the [Alabama] assistant coach at the time, came and talked to me because he watched one of my games and they were looking for class one players,” Maynard said. “During the recruiting process, Alabama was way above everyone else. They just gave me the full treatment. Like this is what we do, here’s our mission, Alabama was straight to the point and I really liked the family aspect of it.”
Players depending on their disability, are assigned a classification anywhere from 1.0 to 4.5, being the least disabled.
“Classes are defined according to players’ “volume of action.” Each class has a clearly defined maximal volume of action, which the player may exhibit. The volume of action refers to the extremes to which a player’s trunk stability will allow them to reach, without holding on to the wheelchair, before overbalancing,” according to the IWBF.
Over the years after stepping on campus for the very first time, Maynard has improved tremendously. She has earned a lot more playing time and has become one of the best players in transition, adding many options when it comes to defensive schemes.
“Her role will be very similar this year, especially first-semester because Selina Rausch, who we had last year is out first semester from surgery during the offseason,” head coach Ryan Hynes said. “She is going to be counted on to play pretty big minutes for us. She’s definitely ready, she’s put in a lot of work over the summer and we will build off of where we ended last year.”
Last year, Alabama finished (25-4) winning its sixth national championship against the University of Texas at Arlington.
Maynard is one of the best 1.0 players in the country and continues to get better. With the system Alabama runs, she has become a dominant player. In wheelchair basketball, teams can have up to 14 points–each player classification added up– at one time on the court. So, with Maynard’s defensive heavy skill set, she is a valuable piece of the team.
“She can play with some higher point players,” Hynes said. “One of her roles as a class one player is to get the bigs inside and to get the bigs some easy looks. She’s looking to seal. She’s looking to pick. She’s looking to do all the dirty work that might not show up in the stat sheet.”
Listed as a senior, she still has three semesters before graduation but plans to get involved with her family’s restaurant business promoting advertisements and making different types of commercials.
Not knowing where she’ll be in life, she likes keeping her options open. Not set on it, Maynard does think about playing at the next level.
“USA ball has always been at the back of my mind, but I haven’t got to the point where I’m like ‘OK, I need to do this now,’” Maynard said. “Right now, I am focused on college ball and my school work.”
The Crimson Tide opens the season this weekend at the Press Ganey Tipoff where it will face two very experienced teams in Memphis and local ABC Medical. Hynes stressed sticking to what they know and not doing anything too complex this early in the season.
“I know we’ll come out hungry and ready to go, it’s been a long time coming,” Hynes said. “You get sick of practice after a while and you just want to play some games, so it’s that time of year and we are excited about it.”
Alabama will play Memphis Friday, with tipoff slated for 5:30 p.m.