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Edina senior to play Division I wheelchair basketball

Hayley Nilsen signed her college letter of intent Thursday to play at the University of Arizona this fall.

EDINA, Minn. — We first met Hayley Nilsen when she was 9 years old at a basketball tournament to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Hayley has Charcot Marie Tooth Disease, it’s a form of Muscular Dystrophy that affects nerves in the hands, legs and feet.

Fast forward nearly a decade and Hayley is now playing wheelchair basketball
for the Junior Rolling Timberwolves and excelling. She made the decision to move to two wheels after 8th grade.

“I can honestly say I like it better,” said Nilsen.

The Edina High School senior signed her college letter of intent Thursday to play at the University of Arizona this fall.

“It means a lot to me because it means that I can keep playing basketball – I love basketball, my family loves basketball and it's great that I can keep playing it in college,” she said. 

Her dad, Matt, is the Hornets' former head basketball coach, and learned the nuances of wheelchair basketball with his youngest daughter.

“We had no idea what we were getting into. We didn't know it was co-ed, we just dove in and trusted the process,” said Hayley’s dad.

Hayley has trusted the process as well. 

“My first year, I didn't know that there were really very many college teams, and a lot has changed in the past couple of years,” said Haley. 

“I can't put it into words. It's great and it's exciting, and we're ready for a new adventure,” said Haley’s dad. 

Hayley's coach at Arizona is Minnesota native Josie Aslakson. She's also a former Junior Rolling Timberwolves player at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Minneapolis. 

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