ST. LOUIS — St. Louis University assistant professor Sarah Adam made history as the first woman named to the U.S. Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby Team.

The announcement was made Tuesday by USA Wheelchair Rugby (USAWR).

Adam is one of 12 athletes who will represent team USA at the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris Aug. 28 through Sept. 8, according to a SLU press release.

“It’s really neat to break down barriers,” Adam said in a Team USA interview. “If it’s a sport you love to play, no matter how physical or male-dominated, there’s a way and a place for you, and women are showing that’s the case in a bunch of different sports.”

Adam was named to the 2022 USA Wheelchair Rugby Training Squad and after winning the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games in November, the elite team earned a spot in the Paralympic Games Paris 2024.

She was selected out of the 16-member elite team for the Paralympics. 

“We are incredibly excited about our Paris 2024 Paralympic Roster,” Head Coach Joe Delagrave said in the USAWR announcement.

“We feel like this team has all the tools necessary to compete for the top of the podium. We are looking forward to the final months of physical and mental preparation, coming together as a team, and being ready for the most intense Paralympic competition to date.” 

Adam is currently an assistant professor of occupational science and occupational therapy at SLU.

"The Doisy College of Health Sciences is extremely proud and excited to watch Dr. Adam make history as the first woman to compete as a member of the U.S. Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby team," said Bernard Rousseau, Ph.D., professor and dean of the Doisy College of Health Sciences at SLU.

"Our faculty, staff, students and alumni wish her and the team much success as they compete on the world stage for the gold."

Having been a life-long athlete, Adam got involved with rugby as an able-bodied person while volunteering at the Disabled Athlete Sports Association (DASA).

During that time, she was attending Washington University for occupational therapy. The year she graduated, in May 2016, Adam was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and lost functional ability and strength in her arms, core and legs.

Realizing she would only be able to be a practicing clinician for a few years, Adam switched her degree to clinical doctorate so she could teach in the future.

After playing wheelchair rugby recreationally, Adam began playing competitively in 2019 and went on to the national team two years later.

“USAWR is the most decorated Paralympic wheelchair rugby program in history and the only wheelchair rugby program to be awarded at all Paralympic Games since the sport was added to the event roster in Sydney,” according to the SLU press release. 

“After winning silver medals at the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, the U.S. is aiming to reach the top of the podium for the first time since Beijing 2008.”