The Gold Rush has hit Langley.
While the original gold rush more than 150 years ago took place along the banks of the Fraser River, this Gold Rush can be found at Trinity Western University.
More specifically, in the university’s gymnasium on Sunday evenings.
The Langley Gold Rush, a junior wheelchair basketball program, began practising earlier this month.
“The idea is to get the sport out into communities and try to identify potential athletes for the provincial and federal programs,” said Mitch Kosterman, who is running the Langley team.
“As well as introduce the sport to people just to use as recreation and health reasons.”
“And for the kids to have fun,” he added.
The Langley program is one of two new ones in the Fraser Valley, with the other in Chilliwack. They join existing programs in Surrey, New Westminster and Richmond in the Lower Mainland, Prince George, Kamloops and Kelowna, and Victoria, Nanaimo, Comox and Powell River.
The programs are run under the umbrella of the B.C. Wheelchair Basketball Society.
Kosterman was instrumental in helping establish the Langley regional program in order for his 13-year-old son, Jack, to have somewhere to play hoops.
Jack, an avid hoops fan and athlete, has slipped capitol femoral epiphyis, a condition where the ball of the hip joint is separated from the femur at the upper growing end of the bone.
While Jack can walk — he has pins in his hips — he cannot do so without difficulty, so playing sports is a challenge.
He has also competed in wheelchair tennis and sledge hockey and plans on doing para-nordic skiing this winter.
He represented B.C. at the Canada Winter Games in 2011 in wheelchair basketball and has his sights set on even loftier goals: playing the sport at the Paralympic Games, possibly as early as 2016 at the Brazil.
“There was nothing for him in Langley and we were doing a whole lot of driving for basketball,” Kosterman said. “He needed to have a place to play, a team.
Jack Kosterman (right) is a member of the Langley Gold Rush wheelchair basketball program.
“It is a personal thing for me, because of my son, but I also want to bring it to anyone who is interested.”
There are 14 players currently signed up for the Langley program, ranging in age from 10 to their early 20s.
What makes wheelchair basketball unique is that it is not restricted to who can play as able-bodied athletes can also compete.
“We don’t turn away anyone,” Kosterman said.
Five of the 14 Gold Rush players are able-bodied athletes.
Able-bodied athletes can play up to the provincial level, but cannot compete internationally.
The Langley program does not play against other teams, rather, they spend 90 minutes of Sundays competing against one another.
Kosterman did not rule out the possibility of that happening down the road.
“At this point, we have set more modest goals: get kids playing, get them in jerseys, give them a team name, set up some game nights,” he explained.
“That is where we are right now.”
He also thanked Trinity Western for their donation of the gym time.
The program runs Sundays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. until Dec. 4, except for Nov. 6.
It is for players ages 8 and up with no experience necessary and the cost is $5 for drop-in sessions.
For more information, go to www.bcwbs.ca.