ARC hosts basketball clinic

The first annual Wheelchair Basketball Clinic and Tournament will take place at the ARC Saturday

Wheelchair Basketball Canada coach and athlete Corey Smith will be running a clinic for teams of Queen’s students before they participate in a game of wheelchair basketball.
Wheelchair Basketball Canada coach and athlete Corey Smith will be running a clinic for teams of Queen’s students before they participate in a game of wheelchair basketball.

The Campus Activities Commission and Queen’s Athletics and Recreation will be hosting the first ever Wheelchair Basketball Clinic and Tournament at the ARC March 19.

The tournament which is open to any student will feature eight teams who will receive instruction from a Wheelchair Basketball Canada coach and athlete prior to their first game. All proceeds from the tournament will be donated to Accessibility Queen’s.

Canadian National Team member Corey Smith will be present for the tournament to help raise awareness for the sport and provide students with some pointers before they hit the court.

“Being a wheelchair basketball player, it’s exciting that Queen’s is looking to start up a recreational program with the chairs that they have,” Smith said. “Part of what I do is to try to spread the word about basketball and get as many people playing as possible and I’m happy to come down and show what it’s all about.”

Smith has been in a wheelchair since the age of 15 due to illness. He has continued to follow his athletic passion and now is on track to represent Canada at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, England.

“It’s my full time gig to play basketball so I’m very passionate about it,” he said. “I’ll go just about anywhere to show people what it’s all about. I started off in the Junior National Team program in 2005 and I’ve been in the program since then. I’ve been very lucky to travel around the world, doing what I love … London is what I’m aiming for.”

Smith said he’s hoping to provide a new outlook to Queen’s students about disabled athletes and, in turn, expose them to a new sport.

“What I try to do is just to show off a bit,” Smith said. “I want to give people a different point of view of athletes with disabilities. It’s really all about changing people’s ideas and perceptions about stuff like that. The goal is to have them say, ‘wow, how can he do that?’ I want them to go home and tell their friend’s the next day about the guy they saw doing unbelievable things in a chair.”

Deputy AMS Campus Activities commissioner Christina Reppas-Rindlisbacher said she was very excited to bring such a unique event to the Queen’s campus.

“It’s great to help people in opening their minds to a different sporting event,” she said. “When everyone thinks about sports, Queen’s students included, most people don’t think about wheelchair sports.”

Queen’s Athletics and Recreation had previously purchased the chairs using a grant from the Social Issues Commission.

“When we were deciding on an event like this, the main obstacle was the chairs,” Reppas-Rindlisbacher said. “When I approached [Athletics and Recreation] about potentially putting on this event they got so excited and were very helpful.”

Reppas-Rindlisbacher said she was optimistic that the event could become an annual event for Queen’s students.

“It will be mostly able-body students at this tournament but hopefully in the coming years we hope to market it to students who might not be able to get the chance to play otherwise in intramurals,” she said. “We’re trying to really foster that relationship.

[The tournament] was really well received by the incoming [Campus Activities] Commissioner who not only wants to see it through but is also going to hire a committee solely responsible for organizing this tournament in the future.”

The Queen’s Wheelchair Basketball Clinic and Tournament will get underway at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the ARC Upper Gyms.

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