Goulds athlete shows world class skills, attitude

     She may be polite and well spoken, but Danielle Arbour’s fast and aggressive play has earned her a place in the lineup of Canada’s national Women’s Under 25 wheelchair basketball team.
     Surprisingly, the Goulds native came to the sport late and is the only player from Atlantic Canada to make the squad, which participated this past summer at the World Championships in Beijing, China.
     The 4’ 7” athlete has spina bifida, a birth defect that affects the spinal cord. Arbour can walk, but she has had numerous surgeries over the years, though she has not let that stop her from excelling in school or sports. She graduated from St. Kevin’s High School in 2013 with a diploma in French Immersion and is fluently bilingual. She also plays sledge hockey on Newfoundland’s provincial team and is an accomplished public speaker and singer.
     Arbour started playing basketball less than five years ago. It came about unexpectedly. “I was an Ambassador for Easter Seals here in Newfoundland in 2011 and I got to meet a couple of Paralympians,” she explained. “One of them played wheelchair basketball and he told me to give the sport a try and I’ve been hooked ever since.”
     Arbour later met a couple of coaches from the national team and was invited to Canada’s selection camp last December.
     Her selection is all the more remarkable given that Newfoundland doesn’t have a wheelchair basketball team yet. Arbour plays at the Easter Seals building in St. John’s. Prince Edward Island asked her to join its provincial team at the Canada Games in British Columbia this past February.
     On the national team, Arbour, who turned 20 this month, is noted as being a real team player who will do whatever it takes to win.
     Arbour enjoyed the trip to China, where Canada placed fourth, competing against Great Britain, Australia, Germany, China and Japan. “It was so cool, a different world altogether,” Arbour said of China. “The language barrier was kind of difficult at some points, but the people were very friendly and couldn’t do enough to help us.”
     The athletes stayed at a complex designed for people with disabilities. Arbour’s ability to speak French helped her bond with a couple of team mates from Quebec. The whole team is close, she said. “We’ve all become like a family in such a short amount of time… It’s really nice.”
Arbour also enjoyed the calibre of play in Beijing. “It was very competitive,” she said, noting many otherwise able-bodied people, including some who cannot play the sport standing up because of injuries, participate in wheelchair basketball.
     Arbour has a couple of more surgeries to get out of the way then intends to get a job and return to school next year. She is also looking forward to the national team’s try-outs and training camp later this year.
     She is grateful for the world that wheelchair basketball has opened for her. “The experience so far has been incredible,” Arbour said.

Posted on September 28, 2015 .