ONPARA Announces 2022 Junior Provincial Wheelchair Basketball Team

Junior provincial team selected for the 2022 National Championship

a red circle emulating a basketball with the words 'Junior Championship' in the centreThe Ontario Para Network (ONPARA) is proud to formally announce the team selected to represent Ontario at the 2022 Junior National Championship in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

Twelve of Ontario’s top junior-age athletes were chosen to represent the province following a series of selection and training camps held over the course of a challenging season marked by uncertainty and shifting restrictions within the province for sport and recreation activities. After having their seasonal championships cancelled over the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this resilient group of athletes is looking forward to competing on the national stage for the first time as a team.

The athletes named to Team Ontario are as follows:

Team Ontario

Laura Calovini (Brampton)
Himmat Dhillon (Brampton)
Jayvon Frogley (Whitby)
Vanessa Giancaterini (Woodbridge)
Kai Halawa (Trenton)
Cole Heessels (Exeter)
Rosie Long (Oakville)
Charlotte McElroy (Hamilton)
Desmond O’Shaughnessy
Grace Plumb (Brampton)
Travis Topping (Vienna)
Sana Worley (Brampton)

Alternates – Nasif Chowdhury (Etobicoke), Lara Fennell (Stoney Creek), Mercyline Nyakundi (Hamilton)

a female wheelchair basketball coach standing and giving directions to her athletes
Head Coach Kathy Ludwig

The team will continue to be led by an experienced, knowledgeable, and dedicated coaching staff, which includes Head Coach Kathy Ludwig and Assistant Coaches Josh Davies and Andrea Foessel. Ludwig and Davies were both part of coaching staff for the 2019 Canada Games team that brought home a silver medal, while Foessel is a former Team Ontario Junior athlete and a new and very promising up-and-coming coach. All coaches have been involved with the program since the start of the 2023 Canada Games quad and have worked tirelessly to help develop these young athletes.

ONPARA would like to formally recognize the coaches’ efforts and commitment to the Team Ontario program over the past two years. Amidst the challenges of coaching in a pandemic, they have taught in virtual and in-person settings, learned to adjust and shift their plans on a moment’s notice, and enhanced their efforts to put athlete mental health and wellness at the forefront of their programming.

The 2022 Junior National Championship will include teams from across the country while acting as the seeding tournament for the 2023 Canada Winter Games, also set to take place on Prince Edward Island. While the event was originally scheduled from March 18-20, 2022, it has since been postponed due to ongoing challenges and uncertainties related to the pandemic. A new date has yet to be confirmed at this time, though the event is expected to take place sometime in early summer.

In the interim, Team Ontario will continue to prepare for the championship in the form of training camps, inter-squad scrimmages, and exhibition games against local club teams. Plans to attend the 2022 Ontario Winter Games in Renfrew County as a preparatory tournament were put on hold as the decision was made earlier this year to postpone the event due to the growing concerns of the impact of the Omicron variant. ONPARA is confident that sport activities and facilities will remain open in Ontario and that trends in public health will continue to improve to allow for a successful national event.

Team Ontario athletes during exhibition games in Burlington

About the Ontario Junior Provincial Wheelchair Basketball Program
The Ontario Junior Provincial Wheelchair Basketball Program provides high performance training & competition opportunities for the province’s Junior-age athletes. The program operates on a four-year competition cycle leading up to the Canada Winter Games in the final year of the quadrennial. Wheelchair basketball provincial teams in Canada are open to athletes of all genders, with and without physical disabilities, making the sport one the most inclusive in the country. “Junior-age” wheelchair basketball players for the 2023 Canada Games cycle must be born in or after 1999 (24 years or younger the year of Canada Games).

About the Ontario Para Network

Formerly known as the Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association, our mission at the Ontario Para Network (ONPARA) is to grow opportunities for participation in adaptive sports across Ontario. As the governing body for wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, and wheelchair tennis in the province, we strive to offer opportunities for individuals with disabilities to participate in recreational, competitive, and high performance programs. We lead, develop, support and advocate for athletes, coaches and volunteers to build strong and inclusive sport communities. We also deliver extensive outreach and education programs targeting schools as well as individuals and clinicians at rehabilitation hospitals and the broader health care sector.