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Showcasing skills before family and friends in wheelchair basketball game 0

By Tina Peplinskie, OBSERVER MULTIMEDIA JOURNALIST

Sam Graham, 18, of Beachburg will be part of a wheelchair basketball demonstration game being held at Algonquin College in the Ottawa Valley March 14 beginning at 7 p.m.  It is a fundraiser for the Ottawa-Carleton Wheelchair Sports Association.

Sam Graham, 18, of Beachburg will be part of a wheelchair basketball demonstration game being held at Algonquin College in the Ottawa Valley March 14 beginning at 7 p.m. It is a fundraiser for the Ottawa-Carleton Wheelchair Sports Association.

A local athlete is looking forward to showcasing his sport in front of family and friends, many for the first time.

On March 14, Sam Graham, 18, of Beachburg will be among the players hitting the court for an inter-squad wheelchair basketball game at Algonquin College in the Ottawa Valley. He has been a member of the Ottawa-Carleton Wheelchair Sports Association (OCWSA) for the past four years and he currently plays for the AA Ottawa Jazz and AAA Ottawa Royals.

Because Graham typically plays in Ottawa or Quebec, many of his family and friends have never seen him play so he is excited to not only showcase his sport and raise awareness about disabled sports, but play in front of loved ones.

After playing in a demonstration game at Carleton University earlier this year, Graham had the idea about holding an event at the new waterfront campus.

He started out in the OCWSA’s recreational division and worked his way up to a more competitive level. This is his second full season playing AA and AAA basketball. He is the youngest member of the team.

When he first started playing wheelchair basketball, Graham was 45 pounds heavier, but he quickly decided he wanted to get into better shape and become more competitive. He follows a rigorous training schedule which consists of basketball practice Monday and Wednesday in Ottawa, weights Tuesday and Thursday and cardio Friday.

While being far away from his team could pose a challenge, Graham takes it all in stride and has learned to push himself.

“When you make it to the highest level you have to learn to train by yourself because nobody else is going to motivate you,” he said. “Eventually training becomes second nature and it’s not so much an obligation, but more of an addiction.”

In the past Graham has attended four national junior training camps and is currently eligible for the Canada games. He will begin the process of trying out for Team Ontario in six to eight months. The Canada Games will be held in Prince George, BC in 2015.

Cost of admission for the March 14 demo game is a $5 donation at the door which goes towards the teams’ upcoming trip to Sept-Îles, Quebec for the league finals. The finals take place March 29-31. The goal is to raise $1,500. Warm-up begins at 6:30 p.m. and the game will go from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Tina Peplinskie is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist

Twitter: @TPeplinskieOBS

tina.peplinskie@sunmedia.ca

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