You’d never know it from watching her wheel to one track and field medal after another — at two Paralympics, three World Championships, the Pan American Games — but this didn’t always come so easy to Linda Mastandrea (’86).
“I remember going to my first wheelchair basketball practice at IMPE in 1983,” says the Chicago-born Mastandrea, now an author and attorney. “I’d been invited by the coach and some of the team members to come and try it.
“They gave me a wheelchair to use, and I remember spending the entire hour chasing these world and Paralympic champion women up and down the floor wondering just what the heck I was doing there.
“Brad Hedrick, who was then the coach and later became head of DRES (the UI’s division of Disability Resources and Educational Resources), was so encouraging. He sat me down and told me he wanted me to come back. That experience opened the door to a whole new life for me — as Paralympic athlete and as a volunteer in the international Paralympic movement.”