Headshot of Chuck Aoki

Chuck Aoki

Bio: USAWR co-captain Chuck Aoki has been playing wheelchair rugby for half of his life. Arguably one of the most well-known wheelchair rugby athletes in the world, Aoki discovered the sport like so many others - by watching Murderball. As a 16 year old kid, he was immediately attracted to the physicality of the sport and begged his mother to let him play. According to Aoki, after months of asking, she finally relented and took him to his first practice in Minnesota. After two and a half hours of getting beat up by older and more experienced athletes, Aoki says he fell in love with the sport and never looked back. While the ferocious nature of the sport initially attracted Aoki, he soon discovered there were many more layers to the sport and started developing a camaraderie with teammates and opponents alike. “I have met some of my closest friends from all over the country and world thanks to this sport, which is something I wouldn’t trade for anything,” says Aoki. “Friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.” However, the physical nature of the sport still holds a special place in his heart. “The physicality is like nothing else in life. Growing up with a disability, people can treat you as fragile. Having something like wheelchair rugby allows you to feel so free.” Now a veteran on the USAWR roster, Aoki hopes to be a mentor to his newer and younger teammates and looks forward to melding into the team’s new lineups as they look forward to Paris 2024. A member of the 2010 World Championship roster and only one of two USA wheelchair rugby athletes to medal at four different world championships, Aoki’s skill and accomplishments may only be surpassed by his love and passion for the sport. Outside of wheelchair rugby, Aoki’s life can seem just as hectic as the high-impact and fast-paced sport he loves. He currently works for the University of Michigan as the Community Access Navigator for the school’s adaptive sports and fitness department. This includes running the school’s Prescription to Play grant from the Criag T. Neilsen Foundation, designed to increase the participation in adaptive sports and fitness for people with spinal cord injuries and the medical community. His wife, Liz, is a social work student at the university, and in their downtime, they enjoy spending time with their dogs, Ellie and Winnie. Aoki is also a big Formula 1 and Minnesota sports fan, and if he isn’t posting about his favorite sports teams, you might see him on Instagram reviewing unique and interesting beverages.