People Making a Difference - A profile- Dean Mackinnon

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| Sep 29, 2017 |

I would like to start by giving you a little history of the original V&DBOA and the connection with wheelchair basketball.  I started officiating right out of high school through the influence of my coach, who happened to also referee.  The Association was small and we held our education meetings in the basement of one of the senior referees with Wink Willox doing the education.  There was not much business transacted but most of the meeting was on situations that maybe happened at games during the month.  There were not many high schools yet and only UBC, but there were commercial leagues and an under 21 league.  I got to do Senior “A” and “B” women almost immediately as some of the senior officials did not like to do women.  Also, we did not referee high school senior girls until the playoffs.  When I started attending UBC, because of my availability, I got assigned to both the Senior Boys and Girls provincials as they were held at the old Women’s gym and War Memorial and were handled by the V&DBOA as BCBOA had not yet been created.

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Wheelchair basketball was in its early stages and a team, The Vancouver Cable Cars, played in a league that included Seattle, Spokane, and Portland.  I was assigned to a game with Bill Lyons, the eventual coach of the Cable Cars and a University official, and that is how I got started in Wheelchair.  At this time, all players had to have a disability and a number of the players had suffered from Polio or work related injuries.  In today’s game, in Canada, a team can have able bodied players but are restricted by the number of points they can have on the floor.  (Each player has a classification number based on their disability)  In the early years, because of costs, most players used their day chairs, however today, chairs are specially made to maximize a players abilities.

Being married, having a young family, starting a new job teaching high school and coaching, I made a decision to cut back on my officiating and that meant I no longer had time for wheelchair.  By now Simon Fraser had opened and the Junior colleges were being built and there was more opportunity to move up the ranks to work University ball.  By the late 1980’s, I decided that I was no longer enjoying the University games, partly because to the action of the coaches.  BCBOA was approached by Wheelchair Basketball to supply officials for their league as they were not happy with the officials that were currently doing their games and not affiliated with BCBOA.  Since I had previous experience, I was asked to take over the assigning and education of new officials that I was able to attract at the time.  There are only a couple of us remaining that started with me.

This is where the title of the article comes in; “Why referee wheelchair basketball”.  The other day I was talking with a H. S. coach and I mentioned how difficult it was to get competent officials to referee.  His look is what brought me to write this article.  His look was, why would someone referee players with disabilities, they cannot play basketball on a regular court.  Little did he know that they can play on a regular court, can shoot 3 pointers, and play full FIBA rules with modifications, for instance there is no double dribble.  As a matter of fact, because of the speed and skill of the players, wheelchair basketball used 3 – man mechanics in the Olympics before the able bodies with the NBA players.   The Women’s team, under Tim Frick, was the most successful team internationally for Canada, other than hockey winning Olympic and World golds. The men also have been successful and had the best player in the world in Patrick Anderson, a double amputee, who has since retired.

Why referee you say?  Well I guess, besides the game, it is the players, coaches, managers, and parents of the game that make up the family that you as the referee are part of.  You are treated not as the necessary evil, but as an integral part of the game and mostly respected by all involved.  There are rules specific to the game but are not so profound that they cannot be learned.  Situations that happen in an able bodied game can happen in the wheelchair game.  Since the players are in chairs, they are responsible for contact with their chair and the rules as to whether it is a foul or not has the same principles as able body.

There are, as of now, teams that play in a league from Kamloops, Kelowna, Vancouver, Tacoma and Victoria.  Teams can have able bodies and females playing at the same time as well there is a separate female team.  Unfortunately, because of travel, they only have 4-5 tournaments a year in each of the regions of the province.  Because of budget restraints, we have to rely on mostly local officials to referee and the pool is very small.  This is where the rub is.  Where do you get competent, keen officials to referee wheelchair when they might only have a limited number of games in a season?  For a young 20 something referees that would like to travel and maybe get an International card, it could be the route to go.  Right now most of the carded officials are from Quebec and Ontario (who also do university) because they have more teams.  CWBA would like to have someone from BC on that list.  I do not think there is the same opportunity in able body because of the number of University officials in the pool to gain your International card.

So there you have it, why referee wheelchair.  I could go on but I think the main reason is that it is a great extension of the game of Basketball and is very rewarding.  The range of skills is no different than able body except that the “Masters” play with the young up and comers as they are on an equal level because everyone is in a chair.  Think seriously about refereeing in your region because the players are no different in that they practice every week and work hard to hone their skills in order to be better players, whether they are on a Rep. team or a rec. team, they all come to play.  There are a number of National team members based in B.C. that play on the regional teams.  Wheelchair basketball is part of the Canada Winter Games, there are National championships for both men and women, and a Junior aged championship, so there are opportunities to travel throughout Canada depending on where the games are being held.  So think seriously about getting involved and do it for the game not the money.  You will surprised how rewarding it can be. (Game fees are based on the High School rates)

 

 

 

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You may have seen me at a meeting or clinic making a presentation to attract new officials on behalf of Wheelchair Basketball.  This letter is to maybe explain the reasons why you should think about this part of the game.