Oklahoman Returns Home From Tokyo As Three-Time Gold Medalist

Sunday, September 12th 2021, 11:04 pm
By: Anjelicia Bruton


The University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) is home to the exceptional USA women's Sitting Volleyball Team.

Monique Matthews with the women's USA Sitting Volleyball team said it's great to come back home a champion after defending their gold medal title in the Paralympics Games in Tokyo.

Matthews is a graduate of Plainview High School in Ardmore. She said sitting volleyball wasn't her first love, it was softball.

“I played softball and I all-stated in that in high school, so it was all a new experience for me,” Matthews said.

Shortly after graduating Matthews became an amputee following a forklift accident.

“I broke 23 bones in it, dislocated the ankle, so they say amputation was the best possible way to have a normal life,” Matthews said.

Matthews said she wanted to stay active. She stumbled upon a brochure for tryouts for the USA Sitting Volleyball Team at UCO.

“What people don't understand is they think of the Olympics, then they think of the Paralympics and they kind of think,' well, these are people with disabilities physical disabilities and so they're not quite at the same level as Olympians are, but I just want to tell everyone that is not the case,” Bill Hamiter, the head coach said.

“You have to move with your hands and legs but then you also have to play the ball with your arms but move with them as well so it's really fast and it's very hard,” Matthews said.

Matthews is now a third-time Paralympic medalist. Her coach said now it's time to make Paralympic Games a household name.

“I think our state should be doing more to honor what's happening here, not only at the university, but what's happening with our athletes that are from here, the team because they do train here,” Hamiter said.

There are about 17 players part of the sitting volleyball team. UCO has been the U.S. Paralympic training site for around 15 years.