May 2, 2007





CHICAGO – The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) Express women’s wheelchair basketball team is now officially renamed the RIC Sky.  The RIC Sky team will be recognized in a pre-game ceremony on Wednesday, May 2, 2007 at the Chicago Sky pre-season game against the Phoenix Mercury at the UIC Pavilion. The players will have a team photo taken with the Chicago Sky athletes. 


The Chicago Sky and the RIC Sky aim to spread the game of basketball to girls and women throughout the Chicago area.  Both organizations strive to educate and encourage girls and young women to participate in competitive and recreational sports, including young women with a physical disability.


“We join with the RIC Sky to encourage Chicago women and girls to reach for their dreams of becoming an athlete, whether it is basketball or another sport,“ said Margaret Stender, Sky CEO.  “We are extremely proud of this relationship and the RIC Sky women, who are inspiring women with the courage, strength and optimism that we strive for on our team.”


RIC Sky star player Andrea Woodson-Smith, assistant professor of health, physical education and recreation at Chicago State University, “My teammates and I are thrilled to be part of the WNBA Chicago Sky family. We hope this relationship will help bring women’s wheelchair basketball into more sports lovers’ consciousness and find more eligible women for the game of wheelchair basketball. We also want to help the WNBA Chicago Sky promote its game as well, with all girls and women actively involved in basketball where and when we can, especially with the prospect of Chicago landing the 2016 Paralympic and Olympic Games. Maybe there will be Sky players competing in each set of games!”


“We are very excited about our new partnership with the Chicago Sky”, said Mitch Carr, Director of the RIC’s Wirtz Sports Program.  “For over 25 years the RIC Wirtz Sports Program has been a national leader in providing sports and recreation opportunities to people with physical disabilities, and community partners like the Sky are one of the reasons the program has been so successful.  Not only are these women great athletes, but they are also outstanding ambassadors for disabled sports and will make both RIC and the Chicago Sky very proud.”


The RIC Sky won the National Championship in 2005 and finished third in 2004 and 2006.  The Express has contributed several players to the national team roster, including current USA National Women’s Team member Becca Murray and alternates Shawna Culp and Gina Wehling. Culp recently signed a national letter of intent to play wheelchair basketball for the University of Illinois Fighting Illini. The RIC Sky plays exhibition games throughout the area to create awareness among the general public regarding sport for people with disability, wheelchair accessibility, to raise funds for its programs, and to change people’s attitudes toward person with a disability.


For more than 25 years, women and girls with a physical disability in the five-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin have had the opportunity for fitness, competition and fun through member teams of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA), a fifty-nine year old association comprised of 214 teams in the USA and Canada.


RIC Sky is sponsored by the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago through its Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Sports Program. The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) is ranked the number one rehabilitation hospital in America for the 16th consecutive year as reported in the July 'Best Hospitals' issue of U.S.News & World Report.


The Chicago Sky is the newest of 13 teams in the WNBA, the longest-running women's professional sports league in the world. The Sky celebrated its inaugural season in 2006. For more information, visit




Ronnie Ramirez                                                                     Lauren Fimbres

Chicago Sky                                                                            TeamWorks Media

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