It’s Monday night and the David E. Enarson Gymnasium at Trinity Western University is bustling with students. Inside two intramural basketball games are underway, but the one on the farthest court is louder, livelier and full of 15 sport wheelchairs.
Wheelchair basketball has come to TWU. According to wheelchair athlete, Pat Anderson, it’s not about disability so much as it is about participation.
After a car accident at the age of nine left him with his lower legs amputated, Anderson found his calling in wheelchair basketball. He excelled at the sport and today is the best wheelchair basketball player in the world.After retiring from Team Canada last year, Anderson wanted to share his passion with others - the able-bodied as well as the disabled.
Connecting with TWU Men’s Volleyball Assistant Coach Ryan Adams, and Tim Brown, TWU’s then Coordinator of Recreation Services, Anderson began looking for opportunities to expose the sport to university students.On September 14th the first intramural game got underway at TWU. Since then, the campus’ enthusiasm for the sport has caught on like wild fire.
Forth-year education major Chrissy Keown, who works with Recreation Services at the Langley University, sports raw and red blisters on both hands. With sweat on her brow, the 21-year-old from Ontario takes a breather from the game in play to share her experience. “Wheelchair basketball is for the able-bodied as well - you really can’t tell the difference between those with disabilities on the court except that they are much better than you,” laughs Keown.She acknowledges that the game is a great equalizer. “It doesn’t matter if you are good at regular basketball, you could be terrible playing wheelchair basketball.”
Anderson and JoeHiggins, a former wheelchair basketball Olympic coach and player who now works with BC Wheelchaircouple of weeks. They put students through drills, explain how to properly wheel the chair, and provide insight on how to approach the game.“Pat and Joe are really great. Their encouragement makes you feel like you know what you are doing,” says a smiling Keown.
Anderson says, “When most think of a wheelchair they recognize that they haven’t had much experience except for maybe pushing grandma down the hall in one.In the first half hour or so of the game you can see the minds turning as the new players adjust to the movement of the chair. But before long they are starting to run into each other.”This said by a man who has two paralympic gold medals from both the Sydney and Athens Olympics and a long roster of athletic accomplishments. Just watching Anderson interact with the students at TWU, one can see why he has dominated his sport. He is fast, cunning and can beat and block anyone on the court.
Over the last two weeks, the duo has been working with TWU to host the trial drop-in and to supply chairs for the students to use.Already there are more and more students that want to try the sport out and the wheels are turning in Anderson’s head. His dream would be to establish something regular or even at league with TWU. Says Anderson, “I hope it’s not a one time thing.I hope it will be a spark that will catch fire.”
For more information on wheelchair basketball at Trinity Western University, contact Recreation Services at 604-513-2121 ex. 3455.
Trinity Western University, in Langley, B.C., is a provincially chartered, independent Christian liberal arts and sciences university, enrolling approximately 4000 students. TWU offers 42 undergraduate majors, ranging from biotechnology, education, theatre and music, to psychology, communications and biblical studies. TWU's 16 graduate degree programs include nursing, counseling psychology, business, theology, linguistics, and leadership, and interdisciplinary degrees in English, philosophy and history. TWU holds Canada Research Chairs in Dead Sea Scroll Studies, Developmental Genetics and Disease, and Interpretation, Religion & Culture.
Last Updated: 2009-09-24