L-R: Bryan Caldwell

A whole new game

Four students from David Hoy Elementary are headed to Mission for the BC Winter Games to play wheelchair basketball.

Four students from David Hoy Elementary are headed to Mission for the BC Winter Games to play wheelchair basketball.

David Goerz, Cole Taylor, Bryan Caldwell and Will Bennison will all be playing on the Zone 7 team.

While all four are able-bodied athletes, to fill out the teams able-bodies athletes can participate, as long as a certain number of participants are also wheelchair bound, especially since not many people play wheelchair basketball in the Zone 7 area.

Zone 7 encompasses the area west of Fort St. James along Highway 16 and Vanderhoof.

The David Hoy students became involved in the sport after a visit from Nancy Harris, a passionate advocate for the sport of wheelchair basketball who helped organize the Cariboo Cup School Wheelchair Basketball Tournament in April of 2013 in Prince George.

She had already been to David Hoy Elementary to teach a workshop on wheelchair basketball, and then she invited players to come and participate in the tournament, which David and Will both did.

The team coach is located in the Lower Mainland, so locally, John Bennison is coaching the Fort St. James players until they go.

Eileen Bennison is the team manager and will travel to Mission with the team.

The game is played as a four-on-four, with players in specially-designed sport wheelchairs made to be more maneuverable and stable. The special wheelchairs belong to the school district, and David Hoy has sent one down to Vanderhoof, so another team member from there can practice as well.

John Bennison said one of the benefits to playing wheelchair basketball is learning what it’s like to be confined to a chair, learning how difficult something like throwing at the baskets becomes from a seated position.

“Until you actually spend some time playing a game in one, you don’t understand how difficult it is to move around in one,” he said.

Previously-learned basketball skills go out the window, said Bennison, and the rules governing players change, with dribbling from a chair and throwing at the 10-foot baskets from a chair making new challenges for the players.