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This article was published 4/4/2016 (2278 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
After a nine-year hiatus, Manitoba is returning to the national wheelchair basketball scene — maybe.
Team Manitoba Wheelchair Basketball consists of 11 players between the ages of 15 and 45 and their coach Jarrett Yaworksi. They have secured a spot in the Canadian Wheelchair Basketball Championships, which take place Kamloops, B.C. from April 22 to 24.
But they need to get there, and that takes money. Yaworksi said provincial sport organizations have covered hotel, per diems, and ground transportation, but the team has to find $6,000 to buy plane tickets.
Supporters have started an online fundraising campaign on crowdfunding site GoFundMe called CWBL Championships 2016. As of press time it had raised $985 of its $6,000 goal.
Making the CWBL championships would be a dream come true for Elmwood’s Jenny Kowalson.
Kowalson, 23, is in her third season with the team. She had never played basketball before so she had to learn the game from the ground up.
"It was overwhelming at first, because the athletes were way better," Kowalson said. "I kept coming back and I got better."
Wheelchair basketball is a gruelling endeavour, Kowalson explained. When she first started playing, her arms ached for days and her hands were calloused.
"It was all worth it in the end," she added.
East St. Paul’s Josh Brown is nearing his second anniversary with the team. He does not always use a wheelchair in his daily life so he had to make some adjustments.
"I had to build my strength and work on my mobility in the chair," Brown said.
Organized wheelchair sports in Manitoba dates back at least to at least 1962 with the creation of the Monday Night Club. It became a provincial organization in 1969. The Manitoba Rolling Thunder was a powerhouse squad in the 1990s.
Yaworski said the trip is important for a number of reasons, one being because the team will actually get to play games. As the only program in Manitoba, the team plays scrimmage games but has to travel to Saskatchewan and Alberta to play different teams.
"Being a non-profit organization, funds are low," Yaworski said.
"One player has previously competed in a national championship but the rest have not."
Kowalson hopes to have that experience, too.
"To go would be fantastic. I am so excited to go and play."
Brown said the trip will be an important team building experience for the relatively new team.
"The big thing for me is we’re a new organization. This will be the first time we all get to play together as a team.
"It’s a big thing for us."
To support the team go to www.gofundme.com/mtqqh8f6