Tulsa Teen Headed To Argentina To Compete In Youth Parapan American Games

Thursday, October 10th 2013, 11:31 pm
By: News On 6

A Tulsa teenager's basketball talent has gained national attention. She's headed to South America this weekend to represent USA in the Youth Parapan American Games.

Eighteen-year-old Karina Keck is just one of 15 American girls picked and she's the first Tulsan to be invited. She held her final basketball practice at the Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges Thursday night, before heading to Argentina.

If you're guarding Karina Keck on the court, good luck keeping up.

"I always said I'd never coach girls," said Coach Raymond Bradford.

Bradford almost gave up basketball for good after being injured in a car wreck, but as fate would have it, he was passing by The Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges one day two years ago and saw something that changed his mind.

"I look in here and I see her," Bradford said. "I see a young lady that has a lot of athleticism."

Since then, he's been working diligently with Karina, for three hours straight, three days a week.

Bradford said Keck is the, "last one to leave, first one to come in."

"Basketball is my life," Keck said.

She has spina bifida, and while she can walk a little, it's extremely painful to do so. But when she got in a wheelchair, and on the court, she felt at home.

"When I first started, I didn't know what I was doing, I couldn't push I was so slow," she said.

Keck said she saw her hard work and her passion pay off when she was chosen to represent the USA. She said it left her at a loss for words.

"My dad was like, 'We have some news,' and I thought I was in trouble or something," Keck said. "I was just like--I couldn't say anything."

Keck considers it just an honor to be selected.

But for her coaches and her teammates, the trip aboard will leave a far greater impression than stats on a score card.

"Means a lot, it has completely turned my life around," Bradford said. "I feel energetic again, and I can't wait to get in the gym."

"Anything I do on the court - good or bad - it was worth it, because at the end of the day I feel good about myself," Keck said.

Keck is hoping the Youth Parapan American Games will help gain the attention of college coaches, and said she also has aspirations of playing in the 2016 paralympics.

Click here for more information about the Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges