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W.H. Croxford students take on their teachers in wheelchair basketball game

“A lot of our basketball players were pretty humbled when they air-balled their first few shots, but I think they appreciated the difficulty of it, and enjoyed learning a new sport.”
Saheed Alawiye guards the ball against his teachers during a wheelchair basketball game at W.H. Croxford High School on Feb. 19.

The Friday before the Family Day break, W.H. Croxford High School staff and students enjoyed a spirited game of wheelchair basketball against each other.

According to Phys. Ed teacher Jon Goldie, the game capped off a week of learning about wheelchair basketball – an initiative started by one of his Grade 12 Phys. Ed and leadership students, Saheed Alawiye.

“This was all about our student Saheed, a Grade 12 student who is in a wheelchair,” Goldie said.

Goldie said one of his leadership class assignments requires each student to present on a non-traditional sport to the rest of the class. While some students focused on cricket, sepaw takraw, and netball, Goldie said Alawiye was keen to teach his classmates about the sport he has been playing since he was six years old – wheelchair basketball.

After his presentation, Alawiye – who has played wheelchair basketball for 11 years, and hopes to play at the Paralympics one day – said he reached out to his team’s coach to see if it would be possible to borrow some chairs to bring to W.H. Croxford, so students could try the sport out for real.

“I feel it’s a sport that everyone should try,” said Alawiye, who plays for a team called the Calgary Grizzlies, and is planning to try out for the Alberta team this week for an upcoming wheelchair basketball tournament in Edmonton. “Even those who play basketball, they should try it and see how they enjoy it.”

Goldie said the school managed to borrow 12 chairs from Mount Royal University, and the chairs were available for Phys. Ed students to try out last week.

“Saheed led a couple lessons for our class and a number of other Phys. Ed classes on his spares,” Goldie said. “Basically, all the Phys. Ed classes got at least one chance to try the chairs that week. We were able to have a staff game on Friday morning and a staff vs. students game at lunch as well.”

The teachers ultimately won the teachers-vs.-students game. 

“Sadly the teachers won, but it is what it is,” Alawiye said.

“All the students who took part had fun, along with the teachers and staff members as well.”

According to Goldie, playing wheelchair basketball provided a valuable learning opportunity for W.H. Croxford students, who quickly learned how difficult the sport is.

“A lot of our basketball players were pretty humbled when they air-balled their first few shots, but I think they appreciated the difficulty of it, and enjoyed learning a new sport,” he said.

“Most of the students had never tried being in a wheelchair before, let alone playing basketball in one, so it was a really new, unique experience for a lot of them. They were able to gain a really nice appreciation for what Saheed and other people in wheelchairs go through on a daily basis.”

The Phys. Ed teacher added Alawiye is involved in Croxford’s basketball community in other ways, too. The 17-year-old has helped with score-keeping at the school’s basketball games this season, and he also volunteered as a ticket-taker and QR code scanner for COVID-19 vaccination passes, before the Restriction Exemption Program was lifted earlier this month.

“Everyone loves him at our school,” Goldie said. “He’s a really positive role model and well known.

“It was really nice for Saheed to be a leader in this, and for everyone to see the world through his eyes, at least for a few minutes. I think it was a unique opportunity for him. It was heartwarming for all of us to see the smile on his face and the thank you he had at the end of the week for those of us who were able to help him make it a reality.”

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