Penticton volunteers get into the Games

Penticton volunteers get into the Games

Author: BC Winter Games/Monday, November 16, 2015/Categories: Front Page, 2015 News, 2016 BC Winter Games, Wheelchair Basketball

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Photo courtesy of Steve Kidd/Penticton Western News

There is no better way to learn a sport than to play the sport.

It is exactly what the Penticton Secondary School Lakers senior girls basketball team did on Nov. 13 when they took to the court against their teachers for a game of wheelchair basketball.

"It was amazing. It was a big learning curve for the kids," said Lakers coach Lesley Lacroix, who is also the wheelchair basketball Sport Chair for the 2016 Penticton BC Winter Games. "Giving them a chance to try this sport and see how difficult it is will not only help them when it comes time to volunteer at the Games but it also gives the kids some insight on the respect they should have for the athletes who compete in wheelchair basketball."

The BC Wheelchair Basketball Society brought 16 wheelchairs to the school allowing students to try the sport. Getting a chance to wheel their way around the court made its impact on the Lakers basketball team who are all registering as volunteers at the wheelchair basketball venue during the Penticton BC Winter Games Feb. 25 to 28, 2016.

"It is an incredibly hard sport. I don't think I did anything properly," said Jocelyn Brady, a Grade 11 student. "Playing today in a wheelchair made me so excited for the Games and getting to see the athletes compete."

While the cheers and laughter came pouring out of the gym, it also shed some light on just how tough the athletes are that will compete in wheelchair basketball.

"It brought some awareness to us of the struggles these athletes go through daily and admiration about how they are great athletes that can accomplish such great things," said Brady.

Nadine Barbisan, program co-ordinator for BC Wheelchair Basketball said the BC Games have proven to be a huge stepping stone for some players, including Bo Hedges (1996 BC Winter Games). He is a key component of the Canadian national team program having won gold and silver at the Paralympic Games and two silver and one bronze at the Parapan American Games.

"There is also lots of kids that have played in multiple BC Games and one player, Ben Hagkull, who may be back for the Penticton Games. He is 17 and was recently at the Canada Games and is trying out for the U23 national team," said Barbisan.

The estimated 56 wheelchair basketball athletes competing at the Penticton 2016 BC Winter Games will range in age from 13-23. Wheelchair basketball is an inclusive sport, meaning able-bodied people can play up to the Canada Games level.

"For a lot of the athletes the BC Games is the biggest competition they will have been in," said Barbisan. "To get kids from all over the province to come together to compete is very important because they might not have a league or somewhere to play in their hometown. It is awesome to have a crowd come watch them and for all the kids to band together."

For more information on how to volunteer at the Penticton 2016 BC Winter Games click here.


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