Brookfield Central Student Beats Cancer, Rules Hardwood
Emily Oberst, a senior at Brookfield Central High School, just signed to play for the University of Alabama. Local athletes sign with Division-I colleges all the time, but Oberst's journey is remarkable.
At 13, Oberst was an AAU basketball player, a promising young athlete, and says sports were her life. But then life took a sad turn. She was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. "When I first found out, I wasn't even worried about not making it, or dying. I was worried about not playing sports," Oberst said.
A year of chemotherapy, and multiple surgeries on her legs would follow, and Oberst thought her days of competitive sports were over. Then her old AAU coach suggested she try wheelchair basketball. "I was like 'sure, I'll check it out,' then I was going to politely say no," Oberst said, "I thought it was slow, and just for people in wheelchairs, and then I saw a practice."
Emily's current coach, Mareike Miller, says wheelchair basketball is one of the most difficult activities she's ever done. "The first time I tried, I could practice for like ten minutes, and my arms were so sore that I couldn't move the whole week," Miller said.
Never one to back down from a challenge, Oberst was hooked on wheelchair basketball. "It's really fast paced, super competitive," she said.
Playing since she was a high-school sophomore, in the past two years Oberst has molded herself into one of the best players in the country. She has a full-ride scholarship to the University of Alabama. Their Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team are four-time national champions. She'll have the same pressure to perform as any D-1 athlete, but she is just happy to be able to play. "Colleges having something for kids in wheelchairs is awesome, because most people don't have that option if they have a disability," Oberst said.
Cancer-free for three years, Oberst already has a victory under her belt. She can walk, but playing competitive able-bodied basketball will never be an option. She says wheelchair basketball is every bit as fun. "The same amount of teamwork, the same amount of friends you make, just different shoes," she said, "having played this sport was just amazing, finding something I love again."
Oberst is part of the Milwaukee Junior Wheelchair Bucks, has been named the 2015 National Female MVP, 2014 and 2015 Female MVP and First Team Academic All-Conference of the Midwest Conference as well as 2014 First Team Academic All-American and participated in her first U.S. Paralympic Development Training Camp. She is on her way to train to become a U.S. National Team athlete while playing for Alabama.
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