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Metzger enjoys eye-opening experience

Elmira’s own Corin Metzger has earned one of 12 spots to represent Canada at the inaugural women’s under-25 wheelchair basketball world championships from July 15-23 at Brock University in St. Catharines.
The team, which includes women from all across the country, was announced earlier this week after an intensive week-long selection camp in Winnipeg.

“It’s an indescribable feeling. I was very shocked actually,” said Metzger from her dorm room at Mohawk College in Hamilton.

“I didn’t really expect to make the team, but I’m really honoured because there are a lot of really amazing players on the team.”

MAKING THE GRADE Elmira’s Corin Metzger fights for possession of the ball with Jessica Vliegenthart of Victoria, B.C. and Claire Smith from London, Ont. during the tryouts in Winnipeg last week.

The selection camp was used to evaluate women for the senior team as well as the under-25 squad, and another Elmira native, Katie Harnock, was again named to the senior women’s roster. She has won nine medals on the international basketball stage, most recently a bronze at the 2010 World Championships in Birmingham and gold at the 2010 Paralympic World Cup in Manchester.

This was the first time Metzger had ever been selected for a national team tryout, and she said that the selection camp was more intense than anything she had ever experienced before.

“There was a lot more skill and you needed to be aware of that if you wanted to make the team,” she said, adding that she had been invited to a similar camp back in the summer, but it was more a chance for coaches to see what the talent level was like and who they may have wanted to invite to Winnipeg.

The 18-year-old is one of the youngest girls selected for the team and has spent her entire life in a wheelchair, having been born with a disability. She was first exposed to wheelchair basketball when she was four, and now plays with a club team in Kitchener called The Spinners.

“There was a program that I was involved with that exposed young children to all kinds of different disabled sports like basketball, tennis and karate,” she explained, “and when I was 11 I joined the Junior Spinners and that’s when I started playing (basketball) competitively and playing in tournaments.”

Head coach Michael Broughton said that while Metzger may have been an underdog heading into the selection camp, she was an instant standout.

“She really impressed us,” he said. “Her chair skills are an asset, and in our sport that is important, but I don’t think too many of us knew a lot about her when she came into camp.”

Broughton had worked with Metzger at the provincial level prior to the selection camp and he was the one who invited her to camp because he felt she would be a great asset to the team.

“She was very aggressive, both offensively and defensively, and that is something we’re lacking a little in the program, and she brought that to the court which stood out nicely,” he explained.

Broughton said that the team has high hopes for a medal at the world championships on home soil, and that they will be busy preparing between now and then. They will be heading down to the University of Alabama in the coming months to play against top college teams, and then to Germany in June for a final tune-up before the championships in July.

“We’re very excited; the girls have been waiting for this for a long time, and who wouldn’t want to represent their country?” said Broughton.

“Since this is my first-ever world championships, it’s a little bit nerve-racking but I’m looking forward to it,” said Metzger. “This is essentially the path to making the senior basketball team some day and hopefully making the Paralympics.”

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