Haber Recreation centre home to wheelchair basketball national championships.

SportsBy Staff

April 5, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.  They play a very tough game.  While some of the players are dis-abled that doesn’t prevent them from playing a very tough, aggressive game of wheelchair basketball.

The three day Canadian Wheelchair Basketball League (CWBL) National Championship is taking place in Burlington at the Haber Recreation Centre which is part of the Alton Campus that includes a high school, public library and recreation centre in the one structure.

Burlington built the complex and planned on attracting national, provincial and regional teams to use the space that has eight courts.

At the end of the first day of competition four teams emerge unscathed. The BC Royals, Bulldogs de Quebec, Gladiateurs de Laval, and Alberta Northern Lights carry perfect 2-0 records into their quarter-final matches set for Saturday at the Haber Recreation Centre where twelve club teams are competing for the national title.

Participating athletes include past, present, and future members of Team Canada including local Burlington Vipers’ athlete Melanie Hawtin, of Oakville, Ont., who will soon represent Team Canada at the upcoming 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship June 20-28 in Toronto, Ont.  Joining Hawtin on the hardcourt are fellow Canadian National Women’s Team members Elaine Allard, of St. Eustache, Que. (playing for the Gladiateurs de Laval), Tamara Steeves of Mississauga, Ont. (playing for the Southern Ontario Suns), and Darda Sales of London, Ont. (representing the London Forest City Flyers). The hometown Vipers club also features London 2012 Paralympic gold medallist and Burlington native Brandon Wagner.

More controlling the ball

Doesn’t matter what the game is – the ball still has to be managed.

Shot on the net - elegant

It’s a long shot – a very long shot. Does it go in?

Intense look - short hair

It’s an intense game. Watching the play and maneuvering the wheel chair to be in position calls for skill, coordination and timing.

Four players around ball

Two players want the ball – while two watch to figure out where the ball is going to end up so they can make their moves.

Coach - intense

The coach is a vital part of the game. He doesn’t just stand on the sidelines – he directs and motivates.

Tightening up the straps

Equipment has to be maintained and in wheel chair basketball the equipment is a lot more complex for some players.

Woman moving up the side

That woman is just “smokin” as she moves up the side of the court – she played a very aggressive game.

Covering your player

Covering the player with the ball.

Chairs colliding

There are times in wheel chair basket ball when there are collisions. All of the players wear tape on their fingers to protect their hands.

Shot went in - elegant

That long shot – it did go in. The shooter looked a little surprised – the other players wear awestruck expression on their faces.

Burlington Gazette photographer Oliver Hannak was on hand Friday night to catch some of the action.  His photo essay follows:

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