Sunday, March 20, 2011

Your Story: Shelley Chaplin

You wouldn't think that a starter on the Australian wheelchair basketball national team would have much to do with wheelchair sports in BC. Well, you would be wrong. After falling in love with Vancouver during her internship for the 2010 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships, Shelley Chaplin has returned to the area to work for BC Wheelchair Basketball and train and compete in various local leagues. Recently, she was named to the All Star team at the Div 2 CWBL finals.

Shelley Chaplin

Six months ago, I had never heard of BCWSA. I came to BCWSA to complete my internship, and I was quite frankly amazed by the 2010WWRC event that the staff at BCWSA produced. Having been to a number of basketball world championships, I can safely say that this is the best wheelchair sports event I have even seen outside of the Paralympic Games and I am proud to say I was a part of it. BCWSA sets a high standard for wheelchair sports associations around the world.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Your Story: Arley McNeney

BC Wheelchair Sports is inviting all of our members to send us their wheelchair sports highlights from the past 40 years in whatever format they choose. Send us your highlights as a short paragraph, a photo, a video...anything that feels appropriate.

To give you an idea of some of the ways you can represent your wheelchair sport highlight, social media coordinator Arley McNeney (who played on the women's wheelchair basketball national team from 2001 - 2007, winning two World Championship golds and a Paralympic bronze) attempts to turn her wheelchair sports career into a music playlist....without using "Eye of the Tiger."

Arley McNeney

  1. "Sowing Seeds" - Jesus and Mary Chain: Because I didn't play sports when I was able-bodied, I had a lot of catching up to do when I started wheelchair basketball. I was lucky enough to have some great coaches early on who had the patience to help me sow the seeds of a love of sport despite the fact that I was really, really (really) bad.
  2. "Waiting for the Great Leap Forward:" - Billy Bragg: After several years of hard work and coaching, I made the "great leap forward" on to the national team in 2001 at age 18.
  3. "You're a Big Girl Now" - Bob Dylan: Seeing as how my main talent in basketball has always been my height, this has been my sports theme song for over a decade (despite the fact that it's kind of depressing).
  4. "Hello, Timebomb" - Matthew Good Band: "push and push till it hurts!"
  5. "Big in Japan" - Tom Waits: My first major event was in 2002 at the World Championships in Kitakyushu, Japan. Japanese fans gave me little toys and notes that said "You are my favorite because you are very big."
  6. "Clocks" - Coldplay: Not a huge fan of this song, but it was the anthem for the 2004 Paralympics and was played constantly in the athlete's village and so reminds me of the experience. (Some people might say that my Paralympic highlight should be represented by "Mykonos" by the Fleet Foxes, but I'm not sure if having to be rescued by wheelchair rugby players on a Greek island constitutes a highlight or a lowlight).
  7. "Instructions" - Veda Hille (the version from "Auditorium"): Some solid (if bizarre) sport and life advice from one of BC's best indie folk musicians.
  8. "Don't Stop Believing" - Journey: It's practically illegal to create a sports playlist without a little Journey. This reminds me of my varsity career in Illinois, since it was played during every chair skills session.
  9. "Bedlam" - Veda Hille: Something about this song reminds me of the feeling of competing.
  10. "Grounded" - Pavement: Because of some medical issues, my wheelchair basketball career has been on hiatus since 2007. This song not only captures the challenges of being "grounded," but it's also my favourite song to work out to.
  11. "Home for a Rest" - Spirit of the West: Back in Vancouver after 4 years in the American Midwest.
  12. "Crash Years" -- New Pornographers: My BCWSA career takes a new twist when I begin working for the 2010 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships. "There's no other show like it 'round here!"
  13. "Rainy Night In Soho" - The Pogues: A fitting end to any playlist/ sports career. I've been "loving you a long time," BC Wheelchair Sports.

40 Years. 40 Stories. 40 Days: It's Your Turn!

We've shared our top 40 wheelchair sports moments and now it's your turn. Not only can you vote for your favourite story in our poll, but we also want to hear about your own BC wheelchair sports highlights. We want to keep BCWSA's 40th birthday celebration rolling by giving you an opportunity to share your story. Tell us what stories we missed, what moments left an impression on you, and how wheelchair sports have impacted your life.

You can send us your wheelchair sports highlights in whatever form feels appropriate. It could be one photo or a photo montage, a short paragraph or a long story, a Top 10 list, a video, or even a music playlist. Your highlight could take place in BC or abroad. You could showcase one moment or discuss your entire wheelchair sports career. Whether you're an athlete, a coach, a volunteer, a builder or a fan, we want to hear from you. We'll post the stories as people send them to us.

Send your stories to .

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Vote for BCWSA's Top Story from the Past 40 Years!

Now it's your turn. Which of our 40 stories is your favourite? Which do you think is most important? Cast your vote for BCWSA's top story from the past 4o years. Since it's hard to pick just one, you can vote for more than one story. You can also leave your comments below and talk to other members about their picks.

We'll announce the winner on April 16th, 2011.

Cast your vote in the poll below:

Story 40: The Ultimate Story - Our Members

On February 5th ,we set out to celebrate our 40th birthday by promoting 40 of the top wheelchair sports stories of the past 40 years. In our quest to do so, we've reached into the BCWSA vaults to show you old photos and videos; relived Paralympic memories; interviewed families who have impacted our organization's success; celebrated milestones and victories; said goodbye to old friends; and even traveled to Prince George to show you a program that's creating tomorrow's Paralympians. We've loved hearing from you and seeing the great entries we received into our photo contest.

Forty stories, over 12,000 words, 44 contest entries, hundreds of photos and 16 videos later, we're done and all that's left to do is say thank you. So...thank you, BCWSA members! We owe our success over the past 40 years to the dedication and commitment of the thousands of athletes, coaches, volunteers, fans, staff, builders, friends, fans and family who make up the BC wheelchair sports community. We can't wait to see how your energy and passion will play out over the next 40 years.

To say thank you, we prepared a little photo/video montage. The music (appropriately enough) is "40 Day Dream" by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Story 39: The Future/ Let's Play

As "40 Years. 40 Stories. 40 Days" winds down, we look towards the future to see what initiatives will be making life better for athletes with disabilities during the next 40 years.

Across the province, new programs are sprouting up on a regular basis. Here's a brief look at a few of them:

Powell River

Thanks to organizer Lindsay Peake and coach Dylan Young, wheelchair basketball has come to Powell River and is going strong. Not only does the area now have an adult league, but they've also started a junior program. BC development coach Joe Higgins recently traveled to the area to put on a clinic and the Powell River Ravens are now sharing their knowledge by conducting demos, some of which use the Let's Play chairs. Their future goals: to travel to Vancouver to take part in a tournament or BCWSA event. For more information on their program, check out their website here.

You wouldn't think that an town as small as Comox would have a wheelchair basketball team...let alone a women's team...let alone a women's team comprised mostly of women over 50. But that's just what's happened thanks to some local enthusiasm and a few wheelchairs from the BC Wheelchair Basketball Society. Recently, this program was honoured by the BCWBS with the 2010 Outstanding Community Support award. For more information, check out their website here.

Vancouver Island
In addition to the wheelchair rugby program that already exists in Victoria, Nanaimo recently began their own program. This exciting new wheelchair rugby club is making an intra-island wheelchair rugby league possible and giving Island murderballers more chances to compete and train without having to take a ferry. For more information, please email

Wheelchair rugby continues to expand across the province and its most recent stop is in Squamish. Thanks to the efforts of Karen Tapp and Adam Frost, this program seems to be gaining new members each week. To attend one of their weekly drop-in practices, email

The Lower Mainland remains a hot spot for wheelchair sports in the province. For the first time this year, we launched a wheelchair tennis league with both an intermediate and advanced division. The WC Race Series is also providing local clinics, drop-in nights and competitive opportunities for wheelchair racers. In wheelchair basketball, the Tim Frick City League and events like the 2011 All-Comers Wheelchair Basketball Festival are giving newcomers a chance to develop their skills in a fun, supportive environment.

Yes, wheelchair sports are alive and well here in BC and new opportunities to get involved are opening up seemingly every day. Whether you've been out of the scene for a few years and are looking to come back or you've been recently injured and want to try for the first time, we can find a place for you. Drop us a line or visit

When we think of the future of wheelchair sports in BC, however, we can't help but be excited about the Let's Play program. This program, which is a joint initiative between the Province of BC, the Rick Hansen Foundation and the BC Wheelchair Basketball Association, is bringing 100 sports wheelchairs for children under 8 to communities around the province. We traveled to Prince George to see how the Let's Play program is making the area more accessible for everyone and filmed this video:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Story 38: Associate Sports

In addition to the three core sports (wheelchair rugby, wheelchair tennis and athletics), BCWSA also administers three associate sports: curling, floor hockey and target sports. Today we take a look at these three sports and the athletes, coaches and volunteers who take part in them. All three sports are always looking for new members, so if you'd like to try one out, please email for more info.

Target Sports

Target sports are included in the Paralympics and, over the years, BC has sent several athletes (notably Chris Trifonidis) to represent the province on the world stage. The BC Wheelchair Target Sports Association is always looking for beginning recreational players as well as elite competitive players. Both quadriplegics and paraplegics play, as well as athletes with other disabilities. When they're not competing, target sports athletes conduct sport demonstrations for community groups, schools, and rehabilitation centres and promote the safe use of rifles and handguns in shooting sports. No experience or equipment is necessary. Below, you can see a slideshow of BC's target sport members, including Chris, Doug Blessin and long-time volunteer Jack Ramsay.


Remember when Canada's curling rink made the whole country proud at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics? Yes, those athletes were all from BC. Though it's a relatively new sport, wheelchair curling has taken off across the province and there are currently programs in the Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley, the Okanagan, Victoria and Prince George. Wheelchair curling is co-ed and can be played by quadriplegics, paraplegics and people with significant disability in the lower limbs.

Floor Hockey

Wheelchair ball hockey is played mostly on a recreational basis in BC, though tournaments featuring teams from across the USA and Canada have taken place in the past. The league started in 1991 when a group of newly injured guys at G.F. Strong began playing around with cut-down hockey sticks and a ball and soon took off. In 1998, a team went down to L.A. to play in a ball hockey tournament and came in second place. Today, thanks in large part to the efforts of athlete Hilary Brown, there are now enough athletes in the Lower Mainland to form two teams. Wheelchair ball hockey is especially popular with athletes from other sports, who use it as a form of cross training.

Here is a slideshow of our three associate sports: