The action was fast and the enthusiasm inspiring Sunday when the Comox Valley Wheelchair Sports Society hosted the Salish Sea HoopFest.
The host Comox Valley squad was joined by teams from Powell River and Nanaimo for the invitational event, held at the Comox Community Centre gym. Scoring stats were not as important as good-humoured rivalry and love of the game, said Karin Kratz, the driving force behind the sport in the Comox Valley and recent recipient of the B.C. Wheelchair Basketball Society’s Volunteer of the Year award.
Comox Valley met a sharpshooting Nanaimo team in the first game of the tourney. “Bert Abbott of Nanaimo stated we did surprising well, meaning we actually gave them a challenge,” said Kratz. “Powell River Ravens definitely were stronger than we were, and in the game against them, we became more cohesive – Sunday was the second game for four of our players – and made better offensive plays near the end.
“In the final game of Nanaimo vs. Powell River, it was a very close call – two exceptionally good teams playing ‘city league’ basketball – a nice example of the very inspiring and fast-paced competitive sport wheelchair basketball can be,” Kratz said.
“Since we (Comox Valley) really work on making this an inclusive and accessible sport, we tend to downplay the scoring. This should not be confused with having no competitiveness however, as we have some very competitive and athletic individuals who simply enjoy playing the sport with us. Some of them have a disability and some do not,” added Kratz.
After the HoopFest, the athletes were enthusiastic and excited about the sport, playing again and keeping the momentum going.
“Currently we are working on getting wheelchair rugby going here and will have a rugby opportunity in April or May. More to follow very soon on that,” Kratz said.