The National Wheelchair Basketball Association have held their first Team USA women’s camp of 2020. 16 athletes made the first cut and will remain in the selection process until the final 12 have been selected for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Rose Hollermann has been a part of the USA senior women’s team for almost a decade. She spoke with Rollt.’s Dylan Cummings about Team USA’s mindset heading into Tokyo as she prepares to make the squad for her third consecutive Paralympics.
How does it feel to be on track to represent Team USA at your third consecutive Paralympic Games at just 24 years old?
“Every year when trying out for Team USA I always reflect on the huge impact this team has had on my life. I essentially grew up playing for this team and it holds such a dear place in my heart. It’s a huge honour to be able to represent my country at another Paralympics with another group of amazing women.”
Can you give a brief summary of what happened at the camp?
“As always, camp started with a day of speed testing, strength testing, and skills testing. Then from there we went into classification match ups and eventually into full court scrimmages. In between our ‘three-a-day’ sessions we had meetings with our nutritionist, sports psych and the NWBA. My favourite part of camp was seeing all the resources the USOC and NWBA are putting into this team, reaffirming their belief in this team.”
How are Team USA aiming to replicate the success they had in Rio once again in Tokyo?
“Team USA is looking to win gold just like we did in Rio. It’s going to be a tough battle in Tokyo. I believe this Paralympics will be the most competitive one the world will ever see. Every team is going to be sharp and extremely difficult to beat.”
How strong is the bond within Team USA?
“I definitely think this is our biggest strength going into Tokyo. Our entire program feels extremely close, players and staff combined. Everyone is focused and wanting to put in the work for each other and I believe this will help us be successful.”
At the 2018 World Championships and Lima 2019 Para Pan Am Games, Team USA were not as successful as they were perhaps in previous years, what improvements are the squad looking to make prior to Tokyo?
“Unfortunately, we didn’t reach our goals in the two previous years, but we trust the process. We have implemented an amazing strength and conditioning program the last couple of years. We have a full-time nutritionist who is helping us be the best athletes we possibly can be ahead of Tokyo. I have never had so many resources at hand whilst playing for Team USA.”
What are Team USA looking to accomplish in Tokyo?
“Team USA is looking to medal in Tokyo.”
Are there any personal goals you would like to achieve?
“My personal goals are to continue to grow in basketball. I hope to be in the best shape I have ever been in by the time Tokyo comes around.”
What needs to be done for these goals to be achieved?
“The biggest thing that needs to be done to accomplish these goals, and something you will be hearing a lot from Team USA, is trusting the process. Using those amazing resources and trusting their feedback will help guide the entire team to success. I hope to use these resources and the resources of my club team, Gran Canaria to work as hard as I can.”
How do you find leading Team USA at such a young age?
“Honestly, it doesn’t feel any different than it did when I was 15 and just joining the team. I love the game just as much now as I did then and that’s what I use to fuel everything I do. One of my biggest focuses for the team this year will be giving energy to my teammates.”
Many of the ‘veteran players’ have returned to Team USA to prepare for Tokyo, why is this?
“I believe it’s because they knew we needed them. The 2018 team was young and energetic, but we lacked the maturity that those veterans are bringing to the team. They have created a great team dynamic that is a mix between the new players and the veterans.”
Two ‘veteran players’ that remain absent from the selection process include; Desi Miller and Vanessa Erskine, what are your fondest memories of playing alongside that duo?
“Desi Miller was always such a role model to me on Team USA. She was the player that I have always looked up to the most in this sport. I can’t pinpoint one moment that sticks out but altogether I miss her caring, passionate, and supportive attitude towards all her teammates. I definitely have a fondest moment with Vanessa because we were able to go on one of my favourite USA teams ever together. We went to an U20 3×3 tournament in Argentina together in 2014. Whilst we were there, we wanted to be training more than the court time we were given so our small team would spend it’s time at an outdoor track pushing laps and enjoying the city.”
You won the U25 World Championships last year in Thailand with an amazing group of young talent, what’s it been like to see their progression within Team USA from then to now?
“Growing older in a sport is amazing because of the fact that you get to watch younger players grow. This has been my first cycle where players have been younger than me and watching those younger players has been a highlight. Bailey Moody and Ixhelt Gonzalez have been our babies in this cycle and they have grown so much.”
Do the young players now remind you of yourself when you were preparing for your Paralympic debut in London 2012?
“Yes, I would say they do. I remember when I was their age, everything was so new and exciting. It’s good to be reminded of that from them.”
How has playing in Gran Canaria developed your game this season?
“I’ve been loving playing in Gran Canaria. It’s helped me become stronger and has also helped me become more comfortable in the space offensively then I have been before.”
How have you mixed that newly learned European style with the American style you have mastered for years?
“I’m not sure if it’s the European style or the effects of playing alongside men. I have become more comfortable with staying in space to shoot rather than driving to the basket, which has made me more versatile offensively.”
What do you miss the most about UTA?
“I miss my teammates and classmates the most. I also miss my coach. The hardest part of having to leave a team is definitely having to leave the people. However, I was able to visit recently, and it brought me great joy to see that the program is continuing to thrive.”
I believe many people in the wheelchair basketball community see you as the ‘face of UTA’ aka the ‘UTA GOAT.’ How important are programmes like UTA when it comes to developing Team USA talent?
“Firstly, Morgan Wood is definitely the GOAT of UTA. She started the program and made it what it is today. If it wasn’t for her, I would’ve never gotten to play for such an incredible team, and I thank her for that. Team USA currently develops its players through the college program. I believe it’s one of our most important tools. It’s how we get players an education whilst also preparing them to compete at the highest level.”
Finish this sentence. Team USA will be successful in Tokyo because…
“…of our commitment to trusting the process and working hard for each other.”
Thanks for your time Rose!
Rollt. would like to thank Rose Hollermann for the interview.
Rose Hollermann Profile:
Date of Birth: 25/12/1995 (aged 24)
Hometown: Elysian, Minnesota
Started playing: 2004
USA senior debut: 2011 Parapan American Games – Guadalajara, Mexico
Disability: T11/T12 Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury
Current Club: ADM Econy BSR ACE Gran Canaria, ESP (2019-Present)
_Rolling Gophers/Rowdies, USA (2004-07)
_Junior Rolling TimberWolves, USA (2007-14)
_University of Texas at Arlington Lady Movin’ Mavs, USA (2014-19)
_Helping create the UTA Lady Movin’ Mavs team
_Winning a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games
Interview: Dylan Cummings | Photo: Steffie Wunderl