Former Blazer Sopotyk Wins Gold at Canadian Wheelchair Basketball League National Championship



By Cami Kepke via Western Hockey League

Kyrell Sopotyk is reaching a new level in his pursuit of basketball greatness.

The 22-year-old is fresh off of winning the 2024 Canadian Wheelchair Basketball League National Championship with the Calgary Rollers after a 70-57 win against the Gladiateurs de Laval in the Division 1 gold medal game in Fredericton, N.B. on April 28.

“To think back three years ago, with my spinal cord injury, that today I’d be a national champion in wheelchair basketball is pretty sweet,” Sopotyk said from his home in Aberdeen, Sask.  “You’re competing against some of the best wheelchair basketball athletes in Canada.”

“It’s my third nationals now. The first time (I was) kind of starstruck, getting used to everyone, the game. Now being a little bit more experienced, I’m more comfortable and confident.”

Sopotyk, who suited up from the Kamloops Blazers from 2018-2020, was paralyzed after a snowboarding accident in January of 2021.


But his competitive nature and natural athleticism quickly drove him to find new ways to participate in sports- even if it didn’t completely click at first.

Sopotyk admits wheelchair basketball didn’t feel like a natural fit when he first tried it by himself as part of his in-hospital rehabilitation.

It was a different story once local wheelchair basketball coach Rob Sajtos reached out and brought Sopotyk out to a practice in Saskatoon.

“I actually just fell in love with it and I’ve been playing ever since,” Sopotyk added. “I think it’s the competitiveness and the high level. Being able to get back into high-performance sport was huge for me. It really helped me move on from my injury and kind of forget about the wheelchair just to be able to go back out there and compete again.”

In May of 2023, Sopotyk was named Wheelchair Basketball Canada’s Junior Athlete of the Year and travelled to Phuket, Thailand to rep the maple leaf at the U23 World Wheelchair Basketball Championship.

He’s also flourished on the track, winning three gold medals in the men’s T53 800-metre, 400-metre and 1,500-metre wheelchair races at the 2023 Canadian Track & Field Championships in Langley, B.C.

He still keeps tabs on his former WHL club and makes sure to meet up whenever the team comes through nearby Saskatoon.

Sopotyk now trains five to six days a week in basketball and racing in hopes of one day representing Canada at the Paralympics.

Even with the lofty goal, he’s focused on enjoying the journey and the new experiences that come with it.

“Just being able to access the opportunities that I’ve had so far in my adaptive sports career has been huge,” Sopotyk said. “Opportunities I’ve had to travel- I’ve been able to go all over Canada and able to go to Asia. I have huge goals to represent Canada national level, Paralympics, so right now I’m just training towards that and just keep pushing myself and learning as much as I can.”

Next up, Sopotyk will pack his bags for this weekend’s North American Wheelchair Basketball League Championship Tournament in the Chicago suburb of Frankfort, Ill.

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