Season Underway for National Academy Program, presented by Toyota Canada and Toronto Rollin Raptors Rosters Named

  • 23 athletes that have trained in the National Academy Program have gone on to represent Canada at the international level
  • 22 athletes named to Rollin Raptors squad
  • Roster includes 13 returning players, and 9 National team athletes

A new season has started for a group of next generation Canadian wheelchair basketball athletes at the National Academy Program, presented by Toyota Canada. The groundbreaking program is designed to fuel the development of young Canadian athletes that have the potential to be a part of the Senior Men’s and Women’s Teams. 23 athletes that have trained in the National Academy Program since 2013 have gone on to represent Canada at the international level at the Paralympics and/or Senior World Championships.

Athletes that are part of the National Academy Program train at Wheelchair Basketball Canada’s National Training Centre in Toronto, which is geared to enable rising stars to access optimized training, coaching, mentorship, and support services.

The program is led by National Academy Director and Head Coach Mike Frogley.

“Each and every day, we’re bringing in the top up and coming athletes so they can learn what it means to be a high performance athlete and work towards the goal of maximizing their potential and representing Canada on the podium on the international stage,” said Frogley.

Mike Frogley

“Our training schedule is intense,” says National Academy Program athlete Blaise Mutware. “It’s very focused on technical and tactical skills such as chair skills and shooting techniques. We spend three times a week in the gym getting stronger and working out muscles to get better every day.”

“Our coaches teach us why we do things and also makes us think ahead – almost like a chess game,” says Mutware. “They teach us to have patience and know when to slow things down and create opportunities for you or your teammates. In this way, the National Academy Program has helped me develop as an athlete and progress my game.”

A part of the competition schedule for athletes who are full time at the National Training Centre, is competing in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) with the Toronto Rollin Raptors. There are two teams (Div 1 and Div 2) that comprise of National Academy Program athletes as well as some Senior National Team athletes.

“Playing on the Toronto Rollin Raptors gives the Next Gen athletes a taste of competition to come on the national level and it puts what we worked on at the Academy into practice,” says Mutware.

“We’re really fortunate to have senior team athletes training at the National Training Centre alongside our development athletes,” said Frogley. “It gives the developing athletes a bar that they have to get to every single day so they know what it takes to represent Canada on the world stage.”

The athletes named to the Toronto Rollin Raptors are as follows:

Div 1 Toronto Rollin Raptors
Dani Bigu
Nik Goncin
Deion Green
Bo Hedges
Jesse Heubner
Westley Johnson
Michael Kilonzo
Lee Melymick
Blaise Mutware
Eric Voss

Div 2 Toronto Rollin Raptors
Josh Brown
Claire Buchanan
Dalton Campbell
Kady Dandeneau
Danielle Duplessis
Erica Gavel
Mel Hawtin
Derek Jezewsky
Puisand Lai
Tamara Steeves
Darek Symonowicz
Élodie Tessier

About the Toronto Rollin Raptors
  • The 2018-19 rosters include 13 returning athletes (Bigu, Buchanan, Gavel, Goncin, Hawtin, Hedges, Heubner, Kilonzo, Melymick, Mutware, Steeves, Tessier, Voss)
  • There are 9 National team athletes on the team (Dandeneau, Gavel, Goncin, Hawtin, Hedges, Lai, Melymick, Steeves, Tessier)
  • Last year, the Div 1 team finished 5th overall in the NWBA championships, while the Div 2 team secured a silver medal finish in a Cinderella moment after entering the tournament as the 14 seed

The Toronto Rollin Raptors’ upcoming tournament schedule is as follows:

Nov 10 – 11, 2018
Chicago (D1 and D2)

Dec 14 – 16, 2018
Washington (D1 and D2)

Jan 11-13, 2019
Sacramento (D1)

Feb 2 – 3, 2019
Fort Wayne (D2)

Mar 1 – 3, 2019
Toronto (D2)

Keep up to date with the Toronto Rollin Raptors’ journey by following Wheelchair Basketball Canada on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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