Prince George’s Joel Ewert finds success through Engage Sport North training programs

February 23, 2022 

At the beginning of March, former Engage Sport North Canadian Sport School athlete Joel Ewert will be heading to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico to represent Team Canada in the U23 Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Americas Zone World Championship.

With only 11 athletes selected from across Canada, Ewert is excited to meet his new team members and compete for the opportunity to go to the U23 Wheelchair Basketball World Championships taking place in Chiba, Japan May 2022.

We caught up with Joel before he left to hear a little bit more about his journey to Team Canada and how he fell in love with the sport of wheelchair basketball.

Growing up in sport

Joel began playing wheelchair basketball at age five with the Prince George Titans. “I distinctly remember my first practice,” says Joel. “I was playing in my everyday chair, as I did not want to try a sports chair yet. My mom kept calling me over for water, but I told her, ‘I don’t have time, I have to get back on defence!”.

In the beginning, Joel jokes that he was not instinctively good at wheelchair basketball. 

“It took a few years to get to a point where I felt comfortable and could consistently make shots,” says Joel. “My ball-handling skills were (and still are) limited due to my cerebral palsy, making ball handling very tough, so I did not push with the ball much!”

As talented as he is at wheelchair basketball, it is not the only sport where Joel excels. Joel is also a member of the national team program in wheelchair rugby, which he says is beneficial for learning a broader skillset. 

“Wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby share a lot of similarities, so I feel that I benefit from being able to play both sports!’’ 

When asked to advise those interested in trying wheelchair basketball, Joel said his greatest advice would be, “Don’t be shy!”. Wheelchair basketball is a game for all abilities. If you are able-bodied, mobility challenged, or in a wheelchair, wheelchair basketball is right for you. 

“As the saying goes, ‘practice makes perfect,’ and after 17 years, I am still FAR from perfect,” joked Joel. “But, be prepared for a good workout and lots of fun.”

Experience with Engage Sport North

Joel first got connected with Engage Sport North through our Vigour program, an intensive strength and conditioning program designed for ages 13 – 19. It was then that he decided he wanted to play basketball competitively.

As soon as he was old enough, Joel knew that he wanted to be a part of the Canadian Sport School and registered to maximize his performance in academics and on the court. Joel spent three years in the program and continues to train with High Performance Coach Dave Adolph as he chases his dreams.  

“Having wheelchair basketball programming in the North is essential,” says Joel. “Living in the North, the opportunities for kids and people with disabilities to get active can be extremely limited, especially in the winter months.” 

Engage Sport North believes that everyone should have access to sport, and Joel agrees. 

“It is also important to get everyone from the community involved, and that is why I think the school program has been so awesome. Not only do kids with disabilities get to participate uniquely with their classmates, but it also gets kids thinking about being inclusive with their classmates at a young age.

“Engage Sport North gives me a home base as an athlete. The high performance gym has become like a second home to me. No matter how my day is going or how my last competition went, I know I can always go there, make some gains, and get better at my sport. They showed me what being a high performance athlete truly means.”

Joel would like to thank Dave Adolph for being vital in his ability to grow as an athlete. 

“I have had a lot of success since we began working together in grade 10. Including being named Co-Captain Team BC at the 2019 Canada Winter Games, being named to the wheelchair rugby national team program, and now being selected to represent Canada at the U23 World Championship Qualifiers,” says Joel. “Dave makes the lifting environment fun but focused. He loves the challenge of creating adapted exercises for me and is constantly coming up with new stuff to keep me engaged. Who knows where I would be without his support.”

Competition Update

Joel will be leaving for Edmonton on February 28, 2022 to meet the team. He then heads to Mexico on March 5, 2022, where he will compete against Teams U.S.A, Brazil and Mexico for a spot in the U23 Wheelchair Basketball World Championships. 

We are so excited for Joel and so proud of all his hard work and dedication over the years. We will be cheering him on!

Learn More

Engage Sport North believes in making sport accessible to all ages, stages and abilities.

For more information on our Vigour Athlete Development Program > Vigour program

For more information on our Canadian Sport School >> Canadian Sport School