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Newfoundland & Labrador Basketball Association

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Wheelchair Basketball


Wheelchair Basketball Canada Games Team

First row: Stephanie Evans, Gavin Baggs, Danielle Arbour, Cassandra McGrath, Jeremy Jones.
Second row: Nick Power, Alex Kennedy, Alex Wells, Jarrod Griffiths.
Standing in back: Raeleen Baggs (Assistant Coach), Gary Power ( President WSANL), Todd Hickey ( Head Coach) and Roger Head ( Manager).
Missing from the picture is Rebecca Greene and Nick Arnold.

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Welcome to the Wheelchair Basketball section of the NLBA web site. Information in this section is brought to you courtesy of the Wheelchair Sports Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (WSANL). To find out more information about the sport of wheelchair basketball, please contact Gary Power - President WSANL at You can also check us out on our Facebook Group page by clicking here.

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2019 Canada Games

Wheelchair Sports NL and the TeamNL Wheelchair Basketball staff are delighted to announce that we are officially sending a team to the 2019 Canada Games in Red Deer, Alberta!!!! This will be the first time since the 2007 Games in Whitehorse that NL will send a wheelchair basketball team to the Games!

The following athletes (in alphabetical order) have been selected to represent the province in Wheelchair Basketball at the 2019 Games:

Arbour, Danielle
Arnold, Nicholas
Baggs, Gavin
Evans, Stephanie
Greene, Rebecca
Griffiths, Jarrod
Jones, Jeremy
McGrath, Cassandra
Kennedy, Alex
Power, Nick
Wells, Alex

Your TeamNL Wheelchair Basketball staff for the Games include:

Todd Hickey, Head Coach
Raeleen Baggs, Assistant Coach
Liam Hickey, Manager
Roger Head, Stats & Communications
Gary Power, Equipment/Logistics & President, Wheelchair Sports

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Wheelchair Baksetball Programs

After a well deserved break during the summer months, the Wheelchair Basketball program has hit the ground running. Both programs will begin the week of September 10th, with Monday Night Scrimmages and the Canada Games Development training on Thursdays.

Look for big things this year within the Wheelchair Basketball community in NL. It has been confirmed that NL will be sending a team to Red Deer to compete in the 2019 Canada Games. This opportunity could not have happened without the dedication of those involved in this program.

Secondly, we have recently secured an affiliation with the Maritime Wheelchair Basketball league and they will look to re-brand it's name to become the Atlantic Wheelchair Basketball League. This allows our athletes to travel to the Maritimes to compete against their teams. We will also host a tournament in 2019 within this league. Bringing such high caliber teams to our region will allow us to showcase the sport to our basketball community.

We look forward to an exciting year of training and opportunity for our athletes. For further information on either of these programs, please contact Gary Power or Todd Hickey at

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About Wheelchair Basketball

Wheelchair basketball is a fast-paced, hard-hitting competitive sport that has seen continued growth in popularity amongst the adapted sporting community across Canada and around the world. As one of the few truly "inclusive" sports available, wheelchair basketball is played by athletes of all abilities. Although originally developed following the Second World War for athletes with disabilities, the sport has seen a surge in popularity in the able-bodied community across Canada as well in recent years. In fact, able-bodied players can play wheelchair basketball competitively in Canada all the way up to Canada Games and National Championships levels.


Wheelchair basketball follows the same basic rules of stand-up basketball. For instance, the game is played on the standard size court, on 10-foot rims with all the same markings for foul lines and 3-point lines. The only major differences between wheelchair basketball and stand-up basketball is the special rules for double-dribble, travelling and personal fouls. In Canada, wheelchair basketball is played according to the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) rules, which are an extension of standard FIBA basketball rules. More information on the rules of wheelchair basketball can be found on the Wheelchair Basketball Canada web site at:

Who Can Play / Classification System

As mentioned previously, wheelchair basketball is open to players with physical limitations as well as able-bodied players. The "Classification System" is a system that allows athletes of a wide range of abilities to compete fairly against each other. Every player is assigned a point value (ranging from 1.0 to 4.5) based on their functional ability to perform sport-specific movements. The classification system for wheelchair basketball in Canada aligns with the International Classification System, as follows:

  • Each player is assigned a "Classification" number from 1.0 to 4.5 based on the athlete's level of function.
  • Athletes are assessed by a "classifier" according to IWBF classification rules in a number of aspects of the game (dribbling, passing, shooting, rebounding, taking contact, etc).
  • Based on level of function in key aspects of the game, the player is assigned a classification number from 1.0-4.5.
  • Able-bodied players are assigned a 4.5 classification automatically, while those players with physical limitations are assigned a classification (from 4.5 to 1.0) which is measured based on the athlete's ability to perform the standard sport-specific functions. The classification number usually remains constant over a player's career, although classification may be re-assessed based on increasing or decreasing levels of function.
  • During a competition, the "total classification points" on the floor for a team at one time cannot exceed 14 points; this helps level the playing field of abilities of both teams on the court.
More information on the classification system in Canada can be found at:


As with stand-up basketball, wheelchair basketball requires very little equipment. The game is played on a standard basketball court using standard-sized basketballs and a rim height appropriate for the athletes' age group (adult wheelchair basketball is played on the standard 10-ft rim height). The only major difference is that you have to play the game from a seated position in a sport wheelchair. A very common misconception is that wheelchair basketball is only for those players who require a wheelchair for daily use; in fact, the game is played by anyone who can navigate the court in a sport chair and handle a basketball!
Most sport chairs used to play wheelchair basketball are made from light-weight titanium or aluminum frames. This design allows for maximum speed and agility, while strong enough to withstand the typical chair-to-chair contact usually experienced playing this high-paced, hard-hitting sport. Maneuvering the chair about the court while dribbling, passing and avoiding picks requires a high-degree of dexterity, strength, skill and agility.

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Get Involved B'y!

We welcome all athletes, coaches, volunteers, officials and sponsors to get involved and help us grow the sport of wheelchair basketball across the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. As one of the only fully inclusive sports available, wheelchair basketball provides an excellent opportunity to develop and fine-tune your basketball skills, while also getting an opportunity to play a competitive sport with people of all skills and abilities. Wheelchair Sports Association of NL and the NLBA are firmly committed to promoting and growing the sport of wheelchair basketball across all regions of the Province. In order to do that, we need the support of the basketball community - whether you're an athlete, coach or someone looking to volunteer or sponsor a program in your area, we would love to hear from you!

For Athletes...

Whether you're an able-bodied athlete or an athlete with physical limitations, wheelchair basketball is open to you! We are always interested in hearing from first-time basketball players, or from those athletes already playing stand-up basketball and want to test their skills and agility in the sport of wheelchair basketball.

We currently have regular program offerings in the St. John's area as follows:

  • "All-comers Pickup Game": Every Monday (October through May) from 7-9PM at the former School for the Deaf gymnasium located on Topsail Road (adjacent to the Waterford Valley High School). Open to players of all abilities aged 15 years and older; you just need to bring your sneakers and we'll supply the sport chair and the basketballs. Free sessions for the 2018 season.
  • Junior/Canada Games Development: Every Wednesday (October through May) from 7-9PM at the former School for the Deaf gymnasium located on Topsail Road (adjacent to the Waterford Valley High School). The Junior/Development Group sessions are available to youth and junior-aged athletes from 13-24 years of age, although we would be willing to entertain requests from athletes under 13 years of age on a case-by-case basis. If you are interested in the development program, please contact us at
If you are outside the St. John's area and interested in participating in (or establishing) a competitive wheelchair basketball program then please reach out to us; we would be happy to help get a program going in your area.

For Coaches, Officials or Volunteers...

The key to growing and sustaining the sport of wheelchair basketball in the Province is to ensure we have a strong base of coaches, officials and volunteers to help deliver a strong, effective program to our athletes.

Coaches in wheelchair basketball are trained through the NCCP national program, which includes sport-specific modules in wheelchair basketball. If you're an existing (or retired) basketball coach or just passionate about the sport, and would like to learn the additional nuances of wheelchair basketball we would love to hear from you. We can provide you with the guidance you need for additional wheelchair basketball coaching modules, which are well-aligned with the streams available through the NCCP. So, whether you're interested in either the Community Sport or Competition streams of the NCCP we would love to have more coaches in the Province trained in the delivering the sport of wheelchair basketball to athletes at all stages of the LTAD. More info on coaching wheelchair basketball in Canada is available at:

What would basketball be if we didn't have people out there who want to learn the ins and outs of officiating? If you're already a trained official in stand-up basketball you are already well on your way to becoming a training official in the sport of wheelchair basketball. Remember that wheelchair basketball is played in accordance with the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) rules which have been modified from FIBA rules. We always need more officials!!! More information on becoming a trained wheelchair basketball official in Canada is available at:

If you are just interested in volunteering in some way with establishing or help with existing wheelchair basketball programs, please contact us! We can use the help of volunteers with all sorts of tasks including: assisting with running development camps, practices or competitions; regular sport chair maintenance on our fleet of sport wheelchairs; fundraising or event operations assistance; and moving chairs for demonstration events.

For Sponsors...

As a not-for-profit organization run exclusively by volunteers, Wheelchair Sports Association of NL relies very heavily on government funding and the generous financial contributions from our donors and sponsors to help deliver wheelchair basketball programming to our athletes. With a smaller population of athletes to draw from, and very expensive sport chairs (ranging from $2,000 - $7,500 each) we need the support of the private sector to help sustain and grow affordable and accessible programs. By donating to WSANL wheelchair basketball, you literally could be helping change the lives of kids who might not otherwise compete in sport and may not have the financial means to access the higher quality equipment.

If you're interested in sponsoring our program, or a specific event or even to help with purchasing sport chairs, please contact Gary Power with WSANL for further information on our needs.

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High Performance / Canada Games

Newfoundland and Labrador has had a strong tradition of producing some of the best athletes and para-athletes in Canada! With our High-Performance Program we are committed to building competitive teams and a competitive culture in wheelchair basketball right across the Province. Our goal is to offer local high-performance training and competitions, to regularly send teams from this province to the Canada Games and to the Canadian Wheelchair Basketball League Championships, and to have our provincial athletes involved in our national team programs. In addition, we partner each year with Wheelchair Basketball Canada to offer high-performance development camps to our growing pool of athletes, providing an opportunity for our athletes to spend several days in a camp environment learning from some of the most experienced wheelchair basketball coaches in the country.

Here are some bio's of a few of our current and former provincial athletes who have excelled in wheelchair basketball (and other wheelchair sports) on the Provincial, National, International and Paralympic stages:

Athlete's Bios
Liam Hickey
Liam Hickey, of St. John's has been playing wheelchair basketball since age 10. He has played for Canada at the Junior and Senior National Team levels in numerous international competitions, including the 2015 Parapan Am Games as well as the 2016 Paralympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. Hickey also represented Canada at the Junior U-23 World Championships in 2013 (Turkey) and in 2017 (Toronto). Liam was also named Provincial Junior Athlete of the Year (2015, 2016), St. John's Male Athlete of the Year (2016) and Male Youth Athlete of the Year for City of Mount Pearl (2014, 2015).

Liam is also an active member of the Team Canada Men's Sledge (Para) Hockey Team, winning Gold at the World Championships in 2017. He's also part of the group preparing for the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Danielle Arbour
Danielle Arbour, of Goulds has been playing wheelchair basketball since 2011 and is active with the Women's National Team program. Danielle represented Canada at the Women's U25 World Championship in Beijing, and has attended numerous development camp opportunities with the national team program. Danielle also participated in the 2015 Canada Games in Prince George, BC with Team Prince Edward Island, helping Team PEI to a 4th place finish.
Mel Fitzgerald (retired)
Originally from Trepassey, Mel Fitzgerald is one of the most decorated para-athletes every from Newfoundland and Labrador. A fierce competitor in wheelchair track, Mel first got involved in 1977 and very soon after competed for Canada in numerous international events including the 1980 and 1984 Paralympic Games, winning gold in several events. Mel was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 1982 and in 1980, he was named Canadian Male Athlete of the Year. That same year, Mel was also named St. John's Athlete of the year and Newfoundland & Labrador Athlete of the Year!

In celebration of their 50th anniversary in 2017, the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association listed Mel Fitzgerald as #13 on their list of the 50 greatest stories in the CWSA's 50 years of existence!

Mel is still very active on the local parasport scene as a regular at the weekly wheelchair basketball program, as well as the local sledge hockey and wheelchair curling programs.

Joanne MacDonald (retired)
Joanne MacDonald, originally from St. Mary's Bay is one of the most decorated wheelchair athletes in Newfoundland and Labrador and across Canada. Joanne first got involved in wheelchair sports in 1972, excelling in numerous sports including wheelchair basketball, table tennis and track. Over the course of a stellar career as a member of women's national wheelchair basketball team, Joanne competed in numerous Paralympic and international competitions including the Paralympic Games in 1976, 1980 and 1984 as well as the Pan Am Games and numerous other international events.

As a builder, Joanne has served on the boards of numerous organizations including the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association as well as Wheelchair Sports NL.

Joanne was inducted into the Newfoundland & Labrador Sports Hall of Fame in 1993. She was inducted into the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2004 and appointed an Officer to the Order of Canada in 2008. In 2016, Joanne received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree from Memorial University.

In celebration of their 50th anniversary in 2017, the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association inducted Joanne into their Sports Hall of Fame and included her as #31 on their list of the 50 greatest stories in the CWSA's 50 years of existence!

Joanne is currently involved in the parasport community as a founding member and active with the provincial wheelchair curling program.

Darlene Jackman (retired)
Darlene Jackman, originally from St. John's is another of this Province's most decorated athletes. Darlene excelled in wheelchair basketball and was a member of Canada's women's wheelchair basketball team and the women's 4 X 100 relay team for the 1982 Pan American Games in Halifax, NS. She represented Canada at the 1984 and 1988 Paralympics; 1982 and 1986 Pan American Games and International and multiple Women's World Wheelchair Basketball Championships (1983, 1988, 1990, 1991).

At a national level, Darlene represented her province of Newfoundland and Labrador from 1982 to 1992 in a variety of sports with a special focus on wheelchair basketball. She also took up the sport of sailing while living in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and also became active in downhill skiing.

In recent years Darlene has taken up the sport of wheelchair curling and has been a member of Team NL since 2009. She plays the position of third or vice but delivers skip stones. Her dedication and love of the sport is contagious and her talent for curling is remarkable.

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