Zeus McClurkin of the Harlem Globetrotters rode on two wheels during a celebrity wheelchair basketball game at Rick Hansen Secondary School on Tuesday. Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News

Globetrotter competes at Abbotsford celebrity wheelchair basketball game

Zeus McClurkin one of several top athletes who hit the court at Rick Hansen Secondary

Students at Abbotsford’s Rick Hansen Secondary School got a special treat on Tuesday afternoon – an up-close-and-personal show from a star of the Harlem Globetrotters.

North Carolina A&T University alum, Columbus native and current Globetrotter Zeus McClurkin got the chance to experience wheelchair basketball in front of a packed Hansen gymnasium.

It was all part of a celebrity wheelchair basketball event at the school to raise awareness for the sport, the Globetrotters and accessibility issues in sports.

Maple Ridge native Matthew Norris, who represented Team B.C. at the Canada Games last year, gave a quick tutorial to fans and players participating on the rules of the game. Then, he and McClurkin were “captains” to choose their respective teams in the game.

Norris and McClurkin had a lot of talent to choose from, as players from the UFV Cascades, CBC Bearcats and TWU Spartans men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as several RHSS teachers, were among those suiting up.

UFV’s Sukhjot Bains and Amanda Thompson, TWU’s Jayden Gill and Jack Nadelhoffer, and CBC’s Michael Chifan were the college athletes making the transition to wheelchair basketball for the afternoon.

A short 10-game followed, with McClurkin’s blue team defeating the orange team captained by Norris 12-9.

McClurkin then gave students a taste of some of his skills, performing trick shots and entertaining the crowd.

The game came together thanks to the efforts of the Fraser Valley Bandits, Abbotsford Centre and the Globetrotters, who perform in Abbotsford on Jan. 31, Vancouver on Feb. 1 and Nanaimo on Feb. 2.

“Partnering with the Harlem Globetrotters and Abbotsford Centre to host a wheelchair basketball game was a tremendous opportunity to shine a light on how we as a community can work together to make sports more accessible for everyone to participate,” stated Dylan Kular, vice-president of the Fraser Valley Bandits.

“Rick Hansen Secondary School is the perfect place to continue this conversation by bringing athletes from the Bandits, Globetrotters, as well as local universities and colleges together to take part in a game of wheelchair basketball.

“The BC Wheelchair Basketball Society (BCWBS) offers programming for individuals with physical disabilities and people (without). Our hope with this event is to showcase the important work that has been accomplished toward making spaces more accessible and inclusive, and to generate discourse surrounding how we can encourage participation and the removal of barriers.”

“Rick Hansen Secondary School is proud to be home of an important event that aligns with our mandate of being accessible as a school. As a school which has earned a gold standard for accessibility by the Rick Hansen Foundation, we are excited to welcome all students and athletes into a community that is open for all to participate,” said Linda Pollastretti, principal of RHSS.

“Bringing together a variety of basketball greats, young junior players and linking our local programs and partnerships is a superb way to showcase the great partnerships with BC Wheelchair Basketball Society in the Fraser Valley,” stated Sian Blyth, executive director of BCWBS. “This is a fun way to showcase the game of basketball to new audiences and show that players of all ability can play the wheelchair game.”

Tickets are still available for the Globetrotters appearance in Abbotsford. For more information, visit abbotsfordcentre.ca.

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