From Nova Scotia to Alabama: My Wheelchair Basketball Journey

I have lived in three different cities in Canada, and now I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Let me tell you about my experiences! I come from Donkin, Cape Breton, a small town on the "island." I got into wheelchair basketball in 2007 after being introduced by my physical therapist. I was constantly travelling betweeen the island and Halifax, NS. See, Cape Breton (at the time) had little-to-nothing in terms of adapted sports and I knew I wanted to pursue an athletic career. After a couple years of making the five-hour drive a few times a week, I decided to move to Halifax! The accessibility of Halifax showed me what it was to live an independent life! Coming from a small town with minimal accessibility and moving to a new town that was more accessible was just a small taste of what true accessibility is.

I love Nova Scotia. I love how unique it is, and I love the culture & people. Making the move from Nova Scotia was not an easy decision. I am such a homebody! My family and I made the move to Scarborough, Ontario for full-time training leading into the 2016 Rio Paralympics. My life was crazy busy! Being a full-time mom and a full-time athlete made for some pretty hectic days sometimes, but I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. I have grown so much as a person, as an athlete, and as a mom!

I loved everything about living in the Greater Toronto Area. The different cultures, the accessibility, the beautiful summers. I miss Toronto!

Jamey Jewells (bottom-right) with her team

I currently play wheelchair basketball at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. I love it there! Getting to do school, have an athletic career, and be a full-time mom is an incredible life experience of its own. I love that the weather is mostly beautiful (as opposed to the snowy months in Canada) and I can spend so much time outdoors with my daughter without having to worry about the lack of accessibility with having snow on the ground!

One thing I had to get used to this year was severe weather. I am Canadian; I am built for snow, not tornadoes! I also had to get used to poisonous insects and reptiles. Again, we don't have these on the east coast! So far we have kept ourselves educated about the do's and don'ts in our new surroundings.

We spend a lot of time outdoors. Camping, exploring, playgrounds, name it! This is the biggest thing I love about our new American home! When I had my daughter, something that I worried about was how accessible things would be in terms of being able to take my daughter outdoors independently. This is not a worry in our new home. Something that can hold a wheelchair user back is the elements. There's nothing worse than trying to trek through snow with a toddler on your lap!

Our current favorite activity is going camping and exploring new playgrounds. Tuscaloosa has so many fun playgrounds and, for the most part, they are accessible. We also love Lake Lurleen in Tuscaloosa. The culture in the south is significantly different to what we're used to in Canada. The hiking trails and campgrounds are more accessible than the east coast's, I find. People here are so helpful when it comes to anything and everything.

Jamey's daughter playing in a playground

All in all, I do my best to adapt to my surroundings, and so far I think I've done a good job!

About the Author

Jamey Jewells

Jamey Jewells was first introduced to wheelchair basketball by an occupational therapist in 2007. A competitive and determined athlete, she took to the sport and her passion for the game continues to flourish to this day.

Earlier in her career, she split playing time between both the Nova Scotia Flying Wheels and Nova Scotia’s Provincial Junior Team, and she helped lead her province to a fifth place finish at the 2011 Canada Games, marking Nova Scotia’s best-ever performance at the competition.

In the 2011 season she took her game overseas to join the Trier Dolphins, a semi-professional club team based in Germany. She has since joined Wheelchair Basketball Canada’s National Academy in Scarborough, Ontario.

Jewells made her National Team debut at the 2011 Osaka Cup and captured a bronze medal. She also represented Canada at the first-ever Women’s U25 World Championships in St. Catharines, Ont., where she was named a tournament all-star. In 2012, she competed at her first Paralympic Games in London, England. She won a world championship title with Team Canada on home soil in Toronto in 2014.

Jewells says she pushes herself to new levels each and every day, living by a motto her father told her when she began playing wheelchair basketball – “When someone gives you limits, you go past them.”

To learn more about Jamey, follow her on Twitter: @JameyJewells

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Date: 6/13/2017 12:00:00 AM

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