Vikings Wheelchair Basketball
I began playing wheelchair basketball in 1988 after being introduced to the sport by a friend. 1989, 1990 and 1991 saw me represent the Northwest region at the Junior Championships in Stoke Mandeville. After taking first place the Northwest team had the opportunity to compete at a tournament at ‘Camp Courage’ in Minnesota. As well as playing wheelchair basketball the teams stayed with local families for part of their stay. This year Minnesota had the heaviest snow fall in over a decade but that didn’t stop the team enjoying the experience as one of the youngest teams there. (Myself pictured far right)
In 1993 I competed in my first European competition for the Great Britain Women’s team in Berlin. This was the first of a number of caps for GB playing basketball at European tournaments, world cup tournaments where I travelled to places including Germany, Spain, Australia and Japan. In 1996 I became a paralympian as I represented Great Britain at the Paralympic games in Atlanta. Whilst the our team didn’t medal the experience was very valuable as we played against the best teams in the world beating Germany for the first time in GB womens history and we watched the GB men win silver against Australia.
In 1998 the we went to Sydney to the world championships where we qualified for the Sydney 2000 Paralympics. After this tournament I took a break from international basketball before returning to play. I competed at the world championships at Kitakyushu in 2002. The following year we went to Hamburg for the European championships in 2003 where we qualified for the Athens Paralympics taking another bronze medal. I retired from international basketball in 2003 as I felt it was the right time for myself and the team.
As a paralympian female wheelchair basketball player back then it was tough to get outside support or funds and we did much of the funding as a GB team. I'm very proud of this as it has laid the foundations for the GB womens team now who are getting the acknowledgement and support required and they are now winning medals at our major tournaments.
Unfortunately with no smart phones then I don't have many photographs from my GB days but I have many great memories!
I have played in the Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball League since 1988 and have played in most divisions over the years from the 3rd division through to the Super League (now called the Premier League). Below are a couple of my favourite photographs that my husband Anthony took of me playing in the top division again one of the finest GB Mens team players Pete Finbow. The first photo I describe as decent defensive chair position. The second is “I’ve had enough of chasing you and I’m going to stop you before you score!”. The foul was called on the latter although I only tapped him ;-)
Before wheelchair basketball I was a member of Liverpool Challenge Club. Being a member gave me the chance to compete at the (BDSA) regional and national games where I won medals in Bowling, Javelin, Discus and a number of track events but once I started playing wheelchair basketball I was hooked! All other sports were forgotten about and I just wanted to play the best Paralympic team sport, wheelchair basketball !
For over 25 years now I has been coaching wheelchair basketball and helping develop the sport for my own club and in the North West region. Myself and the Vikings Club have achieved a lot as Vikings compete in a national league running 3 teams with both senior and junior players. We also come together with some other North West clubs to run 2 junior league teams for u15’s # and u19’s
For many years I was head coach of the North West Under 19’s team who won Gold numerous times with the occasional Silver at the Lord Taverners Junior Championships. In 2015 I coached the u15’s in the same tournament as I asked to step down from coaching but compromised for one last year, always a sucker for those kids. 2016 brought a totally differently role helping to mentor our North West coaches who I am so proud of.
I am extremely proud to have been part of the coaching journey with so many players including wheelchair basketball paralympians and GB players such as Dan Highcock, Jon Pollock, Chris Greenhalgh, Abdi Jama, Ade Orogbemi, Nicola Frost, Billy Bridge, Gregg Warburton, Laurie Williams, Jordanna Bartlett, George Bates and Callum Doherty.
I love Vikings because they are my close basketball family, my team mates, my friends who are not just there for me at basketball. They’re there to give advice sometimes when I don’t even ask haha! They’re there to listen even if they could be elsewhere. As well as the basketball I love the social side when we get to have a laugh away from the basketball court, eating, drinking and laughing. Like for so many people life isn’t always birds singing and blue skies but being part of Vikings can be the reason I leave the house on a day when I may not necessarily want to. This wouldn’t always be the case without my very supportive husband who says those wise words “Once you get there you’ll be fine”. It’s true, but don’t tell him I said that. I actually met him at basketball over 20 years ago so this amazing sport certainly has changed my life for the better. Many family members have supported me and some still do and I think that has been very important for me to be able to dedicate my time.
I am no longer able to train or play but I will continue coaching, developing and helping Vikings and wheelchair basketball as it is a passion of mine and addictive.
Seeing our juniors and seniors progress and achieve goals small or big still gives me butterflies, from catching a ball, scoring their first basket or even wearing a GB vest. Some of my juniors are now my senior players and still learning, achieving and making me proud training to be the best players they can be for each other to improve as individuals and as teams. I can’t always be there but I know with such a supportive network within the ever progressing, expanding Vikings club there’s always someone to coach, to care to be #ProudToBeAViking.
My dream – To have a basketball arena to play and train in at a reasonable price with huge storage and suitable court time to showcase wheelchair basketball in front of spectators cheering and loving the sport as much as I do. #LoveWheelchairBasketball