ONPARA Announces Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Provincial Team

Women’s provincial teams selected for the 2018-2019 season championships

For the 2018-2019 season, the Ontario Women’s Provincial Program has grown to include two formal teams – the Senior Women’s Team and Development Women’s Team. This is in part due to ONPARA’s increased focus on recruitment and retention of female wheelchair basketball players in the province, the leadership of coach Christina Swett and her Girls Enabled And Ready (GEAR) to Play Program, as well as providing development-identified women with access to opportunities such as annual competition at the Défi Sportif in Montreal over the past few years.

ONPARA would like to congratulate the following athletes on their selection to the Team Ontario Women’s wheelchair basketball teams:

a group photo of diverse women and girls sitting in sport wheelchairs on a basketball court
A total of 23 women attended the 2018-2019 Team Ontario tryouts

Senior Women

Sara Black
Rebecca Greene
Julia Hanes
Melanie Hawtin
Puisand Lai
Joanne Lee
Josée Matte
Natalie Robinson
Victoria Ross
Darda Sales
Tamara Steeves
Christina Swett

Development Women

Sara Black
Laura Calovini
Sierra Cottrelle
Helen Dam
Zoë Hahn
Puisand Lai
Joanne Lee
Lia Luis
Grace Plumb
Omaya Rakieh
Natalie Robinson
Victoria Ross

A young female wheelchair basketball player races towards the basket
Puisand Lai
Credit: Robbie Halonen

The Senior Women’s Team includes a group of skilled, knowledgeable, and talented athletes including three Paralympians in Melanie Hawtin, Darda Sales, and Tamara Steeves, as well as rising star Puisand Lai, who made her international debut with Team Canada last summer at the 2018 World Championships in Hamburg, GER. Rounding out the roster are rookies Rebecca Greene, Julia Hanes, Josée Matte, and Victoria Ross who will be competing in their first CWBL Women’s National Championship.

A young female wheelchair basketball player shoots the ball with one hand. She is wearing a red shirt with Team Ontario printed on the front.
Athlete Mentor and Team Ontario veteran Sara Black

The Development Team sees a healthy mix of new and developing players alongside veteran athletes like Sara Black, Zoë Hahn, Puisand Lai, and Joanne Lee, hot off their silver medal finish at the 2019 Canada Winter Games with Team Ontario. Keeping with tradition and the cultural values of the program, these veteran athletes will provide on and off-court support and mentorship to the development-identified athletes in an effort to continue strengthening women’s wheelchair basketball in Ontario.

We wish them all the best in their upcoming competitions! The Senior Women will be battling it out against the top women’s club/provincial teams from across Canada at the CWBL Women’s National Championship in Montréal, QC from April 12-14, while the Development Women will be competing in Division 3 at the Défi Sportif Altergo in Longueuil, QC from May 3-5.

The teams will be accompanied to their respective events by the Provincial Team program coaches.

Senior Women

Head Coach – Paul Bowes
Assistant Coaches – Annie Ide, Timothy Ross

Development Women

Head Coach – Christina Swett
Assistant Coach – TBA

Thank you coaches for all the hard work and dedication you have shown throughout both the teams’ tryout & selection processes! GO ONTARIO!

About the Ontario Women’s Provincial Wheelchair Basketball Program
The Ontario Women’s Provincial Program brings together women and girls from across the province with the intent of providing competitive opportunities and fostering development, leadership, and camaraderie among female wheelchair basketball players. The program includes both a Senior Team and a Development Team, and is open to female athletes of all physical abilities (able-bodied athletes included), aged 13 and up.

About the Ontario Para Network
The Ontario Para Network (ONPARA) is the provincial governing body for wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, and wheelchair tennis, as well as a programming partner in wheelchair athletics in the province of Ontario. Our mission is to grow wheelchair sports opportunities across Ontario. We strive to create opportunities for athletes with physical disabilities to participate in any of our sports at recreational, competitive, and high performance levels.