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Salmon Arm athlete helps BC Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team capture national trophy

Lily Brook to participate in this year’s Hit2Fit charity boxing event
Members of the BC Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team, with Lily Brook from Salmon Arm at far right, pose on April 10 in Richmond with their trophy and plaque after defeating Quebec in the gold medal game at the National Championship. (Toru Photography photo)

Lily Brook’s talent and tenacity have not gone unnoticed.

The Salmon Arm resident is soaring to success in many areas of her life, most recently wheelchair basketball.

Lily, 17, who has been practising with the junior BC team, was one of two junior players invited to play with the women’s BC team, which just competed in the 2022 Women’s National Championship.

On April 10 at the Richmond Olympic Oval, the BC Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team defeated Quebec 66-52 in a hard-fought, fast-paced gold-medal game, bringing home the national championship trophy for the first time since 2014.

“This was my first time to be with this group of women. They’ve been to the Paralympics and a bunch of bigger things than I’ve ever been to,” said Lily.

“It was so exciting when they mentioned it – I thought, ‘Oh my gosh this is so huge.’ I just got back from skiing nationals, so this was really cool, I was really excited.”

When Lily referred to skiing, she is talking about paranordic sit skiing, currently one of three sports in which she excels.

“I love them all so much. I would say boxing was my first sport I really fell in love with, skiing is up there and basketball is great too.

“But I would say boxing is the one I enjoy the most.”

In response to a comment that she must be super fit, she laughs.

“I work out pretty much every day to train for my sports. I do boxing three days a week still.

“It’s also really good cross-training for my other sports. Basketball twice a week usually, sometimes more. Skiing, three to four times a week.”

Boxing is “awesome,” she said enthusiastically.

“I’m with the Westcoast Wheelchair Adaptive Boxing group. They’re trying to make wheelchair boxing a big thing. Right now it’s not even considered a sport,” she said.

Although she would love to pursue wheelchair boxing at a higher level, that won’t be possible until more people do it and it becomes recognized.

When Lily was injured and could no longer do the other sports she loved like soccer, basketball, cross-country running and skiing, she gave up on sports completely for about a year-and-a-half to two years.

She has osteochondritis in her ankles, which she was told usually heals. However, not for her, not so far.

“It was really hard to tell myself, hey you have to go find something else to do.”

First she tried swimming, but it wasn’t for her. Then she opted for boxing. Her goal now is to spread boxing to other people who might enjoy it.

She said it was huge for her when Bulldogs Fitness & Boxing Centre in Salmon Arm brought in wheelchair boxers for Boxing 4 Wellness’ Hit2Fit charity event.

Now, Lily is excited to be participating in this year’s Hit2Fit, set for May 7.

Regarding wheelchair basketball and the national competition, Lily said she was very happy with how she played.

“The other women were more skilled, I’d say, than me. But all the coaches said I’m doing really well for where I’m at. I’ve only been playing for a year.”

She was also pleased to score some points.

However, her favourite part of the event was the dinner, she said, where players from all across Canada attended. The discussions were what she loved, being able to ask questions of women with years of experience.

“We got to talk to people who have been playing for a long time, we got to know their journeys and how they got to where they are.”

Read more: Young Shuswap wheelchair athlete spreads message of hope

Through all her sports, Lily said she has been able to get to know so many great people. Even with living in Salmon Arm, her basketball coach was able to set up online training sessions.

“My basketball team down in Vancouver, I know them as if I lived there,” she said.

Her coach has also been training a crew from Cambodia, so they’ve trained together.

Asked what’s next for her, Lily said the basketball season is almost over, but she is hoping to go to the Canada Games next year for skiing, so she’ll be training for that. “Basketball, I’ll wait to see where it takes me,” she said.

And along with spreading the word about boxing, she also wants to keep spreading the word about sports and her journey.

For her Capstone project for school, she went to schools in School District 83 and spoke to the students. In fact, she said, she’s still doing it.

She knows she’s made a positive difference for at least one person who was struggling, which makes it all worthwhile.

Read more: Young Shuswap wheelchair athlete spreads message of hope
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At the National Championship in Richmond on April 10, Salmon Arm’s Lily Brook gets a chance to pose with the trophy and her coaches, from left: BC coach Joe Higgins who has done virtual training sessions with Lily, head coach of Team BC Marni Abbott-Peter, and assistant coach of Team BC, Tim Frick. One of Lily’s BC coaches, Simon Cass, was unable to attend. (Toru Photography)
Lily Brook takes a warm-up shot before the gold medal game against Team Quebec on April 10 in Richmond. In the foreground is Paralympian and teammate Amanda Pinheiro (Yan). (Victory Creative photo)

Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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