Verfuerth, Hinze to be among wheelchair athletes representing United States in 2016 Paralympic Games
Two athletes with local ties will vie for honors at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Kaitlyn Verfuerth, a 2003 graduate of Port Washington High School, will be a member of the U.S. wheelchair tennis team that participates in the Games Sept. 9 to 16.
Nate Hinze, who graduated from Cedar Grove-Belgium High School in 2006, will play for the U.S. wheelchair basketball team.
Both athletes will make return appearances in the Paralympics. Verfuerth played in the 2004 and 2008 Games, and Hinze earned a bronze medal as a member of the third-place men’s team in 2012.
Verfuerth, who lives in Flagstaff, Ariz., was chosen for the eight-member team by being among the world’s top 22 ranked women’s players. She is one of three female singles players on the squad.
Her selection was announced by the U.S. Tennis Association, which is the national governing body for wheelchair tennis.
Verfuerth, 30, has represented the United States in a variety of international tennis tournaments, winning a bronze medal in the 2014 Copa Americas Cup and two gold medals at the 2007 Parapan American Games. She plays professionally on the UNIQLO wheelchair tennis tour.
Verfuerth holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Verfuerth is the head coach of the girls’ tennis team at Flagstaff High School in Arizona and oversees a nonprofit group called Over the Rainbow Butterfly Garden, which assists children with disabilities. She and her life and business partner Greg Guerin own a self-serve yogurt shop in Flagstaff.
Verfuerth lost the use of her legs after being injured in an automobile accident when she was 7.
This spring, Verfuerth was inducted into the Wall of Fame at Port Washington High School, where she played on the girls’ tennis team. She is the daughter of Katherine Allen of Port.
Hinze was chosen for the men’s Paralympic team following a selection camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Hinze was diagnosed with osterosarcoma when he was in high school, leading to amputation of part of one of his legs. He was introduced to wheelchair basketball through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and played on the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater team that won national titles in 2007, 2009 and 2011.
Last year, he was a member of the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the Parapan American Games.
Hinze holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in educational leadership. He teaches physical education at Ripon Middle School.
Hinze lives in Oshkosh with his wife and daughter. He is the son of Ron and Patti Hinze of Cedar Grove.
The Paralympic Games is open to elite-level wheelchair athletes who have a mobility-related disability. More than 4,200 athletes from around the world will participate in the 2016 Games.
Image Information: Kaitlyn Verfuerth and Nate Hinze