Barriers are temporary. Queens college junior Seira Larrauri has further affirmed this adage by making CUNY history.
The native of Puerto Rico became the first CUNY athlete while still a student to ever receive an invitation to a USA national team tryout in any sport with her invite to the 2022 Selection Camp for the U.S. women’s wheelchair basketball national team. Several former student-athletes tried out or competed at the Paralympic level either before or after they participated in inclusive sports at CUNY.
The camp will be held in the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado April 12-16. Just 29 wheelchair athletes from around the country were chosen for the tryout and only 12 and three alternates will comprise the squad.
“Seira exemplifies the resolve that drives CUNY students, alumni, faculty and staff including those with disabilities,” said Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, who heads the CUNY system. “She is also a testament to the success of CUNY’s Inclusive and Adaptive Sports platform.
“The initiative is a true model of inclusivity,” Matos added, “that allows students of all abilities and talents to benefit from team sports and interscholastic competition at the collegiate level. We are inspired by Seira’s accomplishments as an athlete and a student at Queens College. CUNY is cheering loudly as she pursues her Paralympic dreams.”
Garcia led Team CUNY in scoring this season at 16.5 points per game in their first year competing in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association. She was diagnosed with Legg-Calve-Perthes, a degenerative disease that affects the hip joint, at age 7. Ten years later, in 2014, the disease ended Garcia’s participation in standing basketball. She was only 17.
It didn’t stop her from engaging in a game she clearly loves. Garcia began to play with FEBASIRU, Puerto Rico’s wheelchair basketball team and ultimately for CUNY beginning in 2020. She was subsequently overjoyed upon learning about the Team USA honor.
“I had to read the email three times to make sure it was real,” she said. “The mind is more powerful than anything else…Life can be great, if you allow it to be.”