Manchester’s own Paul Schulte now a color commentator!
It may have been a while since wheelchair Olympian Paul Schulte was featured in Manchester news coverage, but it’s doubtful that too many local readers have forgotten about his amazing achievements.
Paul, who was seriously injured in a car crash at the age of 10, started playing basketball from his wheelchair four years later. By the time he was 19, this young man from Manchester was playing with Team USA at the Paralympic level. Team USA received gold medals at the 1998 and 2002 World Championships, where Paul also was named MVP both times. As co-captain of the U.S. men’s wheelchair basketball team, he helped bring home many titles. These include the bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Games, and The team also took gold at the Parapan American Games in 1999, 2007 and 2011.
He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington, where he played for the Movin’ Mavs wheelchair basketball team. In 2002 that team won the National Intercollegiate Championship. Paul was named Tournament MVP, First Team All-American and had his #20 jersey retired.
After college, he played on the Dallas Mavericks Wheelchair team and helped lead that team to four National Championships. Across Junior, Men’s, and Collegiate divisions, he has also been named the National Wheelchair Basketball Association’s MVP five times.
Paul officially retired from the highest level of wheelchair basketball earlier this year at the ripe old age of 36 years. Within a couple months, he was contacted by NBC to try out as a color commentator for the 2016 Paralympic wheelchair basketball games taking place in Rio de Janeiro next month. He accepted the offer and will begin broadcasting on CNBC starting September 8, from a studio in Connecticut.
By day, Paul, who lives in Bradenton, Florida with his wife Megan and their 5-year-old son Brady, is a design engineer for Invacare Top End, with headquarters in the Tampa area. He travels around the world designing specific chairs for other world-class wheelchair athletes. He also does motivational speaking engagements to kids–both general and athletic student populations–about overcoming adversity, as well as speaking privately to hospitalized individuals encountering a disabling injury or other adversity.
According to his proud dad, Tom Schulte, after an invitation to participate on the world stage again last spring, Paul struggled quite a bit with a decision to be part of the Paralympic team. With a burgeoning career and a growing family, he realized that it was time to retire. He continues to play wheelchair basketball, of course, but on a more local level.
So it came as a surprise to receive the call from NBC a few weeks after his retirement was announced, asking if he could participate in a totally different way. He was flown to Connecticut to audition by commentating on a playback of the 2012 Paralympic USA games in London. Despite being reportedly “terrified,” he talked to players and coaches to prepare for the audition and naturally, passed with flying colors. He was offered a contract and after a bit of negotiations, came to an agreement to comment on two games per day, for 12 days of the Paralympics.
Rather than being a bystander, Paul Schulte has a new opportunity to bring his vast experiences full circle and continue on the “world stage” a little while longer.