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Newport twins prepping for Canada Games debut

NEWPORT – Twin brothers Jordan and Justin Stephens are bound for the Canada Winter Games.

The Newport residents, Grade 10 students at Avon View High School, will be representing Team Nova Scotia in wheelchair basketball.

Coach Steve Sampson met the 16-year-old twins three years ago. He’s most impressed by how far they’ve come since the first day they took the court under his guidance.

“Three years ago, Jordan could barely get himself up the floor. When he did finally get there, it was too late, the play was headed back the other way. Today, he is in the play, making contact, and contributing to the team,” said Sampson.

He said both boys are determined to continuously improve, and the practice has certainly paid off. Justin, for example, had to learn how to maneuver a wheelchair to play the game.

“Justin is a lean, mean machine with impressive speed. Both boys put time in outside of practice. Their potential to continue to improve, and make even greater steps is what I see,” Sampson said.

The brothers have different roles on the court that correspond with their physical abilities. The players all have physical classification numbers between 1 and 4.5.

Jordan, a class 1, shines on defence.

“Jordan’s job on defence is to disrupt the opposing team by making contact - we call it putting a chair on someone - and not let them go where they want to go.”

Justin, a class 3.5, is one of those players that constantly puts pressure on the opposition.

“Because of Justin’s speed, he is not somebody you can just shake off. He is in your face and there is no getting away. He can be very frustrating to the other team,” said Sampson.

Sampson feels this trip to the Canada Games will be about introducing the athletes, ranging in age from 12 to 22, to the some of the best wheelchair basketball players in Canada.

“The biggest benefit for is for them is to see the better team, better players, so they know how hard they have to work,” said Sampson, who hopes Nova Scotia’s team will standout for going all out in every game from the tip off until the final buzzer.

Jordan may have had the upper hand when the two started playing wheelchair basketball, but his brother can now offer some stiff competition in a game of one-on-one.

“I thought it was a good sport,” said Justin, thinking back on the day he decided to give wheelchair basketball a whirl.

“I wanted something with a lot of contact,” Jordan chimed in.

The brothers hope to play their best at the Canada Games, and make the most of the entire experience that will include mixing with other athletes from across the country, free accommodations in the athletes’ village, free transit, free concerts, free food and free entrance to the other sporting events.

Mother Roseanna Boyd will be travelling to Prince George, B.C. to cheer the team on from the sidelines. The Games will run from Feb. 13 to March 1, with wheelchair basketball competitions slated for Feb. 16-20.

“I threatened them and told them I was going to make t-shirt’s that say Jordan’s Mom, Justin’s Mom,” joked Boyd, drawing simultaneous groans out of her twins.

Boyd admits it can be nerve-racking to watch her sons playing the contact sport against older or stronger players, but it’s also motivational to watch the athletes of all ages gel together to work toward a common goal.

“Everybody is equal out there. They have an awesome team. They come from all walks of life,” Boyd said.

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