Whitehorse’s Aidan Love had a poor night’s sleep recently. Pure excitement was the cause.
The 20-year-old had just learned he had made Canada’s junior national wheelchair basketball team, it was announced last week.
“I didn’t sleep very well that night, that’s for sure,” said Love. “I was pretty excited.”
As a member of the team, Love will compete at the Men’s U23 World Wheelchair Basketball Championships this September in Adana, Turkey.
Hopes are high for the team at the quadrennial event. Canada secured a berth to the worlds with a first place finish at the 2013 Americas Zone Qualification Tournament in Mexico City, in March.
The team finished eighth at the 2009 U23 worlds, was sixth in 2005, and won gold in 2001 and 1997.
In fact, Canada is a bit of a powerhouse in the sport. Canada’s senior men’s team won gold at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London and silver at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing.
Currently, Love is the only northerner on Canada’s four national teams, including the two women’s teams. He is the first player from the territories on the U23 men’s national team since Inuvik, N.W.T.‘s Brent Lakatos in 2001.
He earned the spot during team trials in Toronto the week before last.
Surprisingly, Love is relatively new to the sport. He began playing in September while attending school at the University of Victoria in B.C., where he is studying elementary education.
“This is the first kind of basketball I’ve ever really played,” said Love. “I was a volleyball athlete and played hockey as well.”
In B.C. he began playing with the Victoria Chargers club team, advancing up from Division 2 to Division 1 through the season. The Chargers, who were favourites to win, lost in the semifinal of the playoff in the inter-B.C. league.
Love was named Rookie of the Year by the team in March.
“The Victoria team is definitely a strong team in that league,” said Love. “There are lots of Team Canada senior team prospects and some well experienced players. So it was pretty much the perfect place for me because I learned a lot and got recognized really well because I was able to spend more time on the court because we could compensate with better players.”
Wheelchair basketball uses a classification system, assigning players a certain amount of points based on functional mobility. Players are classified from a “1 point player” through to a “4.5 point player,” as set by the International Wheelchair basketball Federation. A team can only have 14 points worth of players on the court during a game.
Love is a 1 point player, so his role is to, “open up lanes and pick off players,” he said.
Love is currently in Whitehorse but will attend a three-week training camp in Toronto beginning at the end of the month.
“I weight train every day generally after work; during the nights I go hand-cycling or play wheelchair basketball with a bunch of friends,” said Love.
Love became a paraplegic in a skiing accident at Whistler, B.C. February 2012.
“The summer after, after completing rehab, I went back to school and pretty much hopped right back on the horse,” said Love. “So I’ve done a year of school since and competed in wheelchair basketball. I didn’t let it stop life.”
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com