Wheelchair Basketball Canada believes that bold innovation and commitment to excellence has enabled Canada’s wheelchair basketball teams to consistently reach the top of the podium during the last two decades, including their most recent gold medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Steered by their ongoing vision of being a world leader, Wheelchair Basketball Canada is delighted to unveil plans for an unprecedented wheelchair basketball initiative made possible through partnerships with Own the Podium, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, and the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario.
Starting in July 2013 the Wheelchair Basketball Canada Academy in Toronto will bring together a handpicked selection of elite Canadian athletes and personnel, under the expert tutelage of one of the game’s top minds. Building on the legacy of an ongoing sports dynasty that he began 15 years ago when he became the head coach of the Canadian Men’s Wheelchair Basketball team, Mike Frogley is returning home to head the groundbreaking program that is the first of it’s kind in the world.
“The Academy is unique in that, really for the first time ever, it links everything together. I am excited to enter a situation where I can literally have an impact on everybody in Canada who is involved in wheelchair basketball. Every athlete, coach, official, and facilitator is touched in some way by the high performance program. Some individuals will go through the program and contribute to the future success of the national teams, other individuals will go back to their communities with new skills and leadership that will contribute to the growth of the game as a whole,” said Frogley.
Frogley was head coach of the Canadian Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team from 1998-2004, leading them to back-to-back Paralympic gold medals in 2000 and 2004. As an assistant coach he won gold at the 2006 World Championships. He returned as head coach in 2008 winning silver at the Paralympics, before turning his focus solely onto his NCAA coaching career. He is stepping down as the longtime head coach of the University of Illinois Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team to accept the new position of Wheelchair Basketball Canada Academy Director.
“Mike possesses a distinct and unparalleled ability to take raw talent and transform it into skill. Good players are great under Mike because he understands how to maximize individual potential within a team dynamic. When it comes to deep knowledge of wheelchair basketball, insight into how the game is developing and where it is going, he is the brightest mind in the game,” said Wheelchair Basketball Canada Executive Director Wendy Gittens.
The year-round academy program is designed to ensure the ongoing success of Canada’s national wheelchair basketball teams at future World Championships and Paralympic Games. By accelerating the development of elite male and female wheelchair basketball players, that have shown national team potential, the academy will increase the quality and quantity of the high performance athlete pool.
“It is a homegrown solution for targeted high performance Canadian athletes. Elite wheelchair basketball players, that previously had to leave the country, in order to optimize their individual development, will now be given the opportunity to hone their skills in a high level daily training environment here in Canada,” explains Wheelchair Basketball Canada High Performance Director Paul Zachau.
Participants will primarily come from the later part of the Train to Compete phase and Learn to Win phase of the Wheelchair Basketball Canada Long Term Athlete Development Model. The majority will be in the 18-25 year-old age category, including some younger members of the senior national teams. Other existing members of the senior national teams will also have the opportunity for customized training and mentorship with the younger athletes.