Wheeler helps Canada qualify for World Cup
It was a memorable moment when Jordyn Wheeler first set eyes on her Team Canada basketball uniform.
The 15-year-old Thorold resident was a member of Canada’s basketball squad that won a silver medal this past June at the FIBA U16 Women’s Americas Championship in Yucatán, Mexico.
“When I saw the jersey with my number and my last name on it I thought that was pretty cool. It was a great experience to represent my country and my family.”
The Niagara Prep basketball player was one of 36 players chosen to attend a week-long Canada Basketball training camp in March. From there, 16 players were chosen for a selection camp at the end of May. After two more days of tryouts, she was one of 12 players selected to the squad.
She found out the news when she was called into a meeting with the coaching staff.
“It was really exciting especially because it happened in the lobby and we got to go back upstairs and celebrates with all the teammates that had made it. It was fun.”
The six footer had a defined role on Team Canada.
“I mostly did the little things like rebounding, defence, finishing in transition and things like that.”
It was a great learning experience for Wheeler, who started playing rep basketball in Grade 3 with the North Toronto Huskies. In 2020, her family moved to Niagara where she suited up for the Niagara Girls Basketball Academy. Last year, she joined the Niagara Prep in the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association.
“I learned that I could adjust to any situation because the role I played on for Team Canada was different than the role I played at Niagara Prep. At Niagara Prep, it was more scoring and getting to the rim but with Team Canada everybody could score so it was a little bit different,” the Grade 10 student at A.N. Myer said. “It taught me how to be more versatile.”
The 2022 Team Ontario member will take a lot out of her first international experience.
“It’s the connections and the friendships I made with all the girls. Now I am going to go play against them in my league in Ontario and it is great that I got to know them all so well.”
Playing against such-high level competition gave the Kia Nurse Elite team member a good idea of what she needs to do next to take her game to an even higher level.
“I need to get better at shooting from the outside because I am more of a driver. I need to get better from the perimeter and pulling up instead of taking it all the way to the rim.”
Canada claimed silver at the FIBA U16 Women’s Americas Championship 2023 following a 79-59 loss to the United States in the gold medal game. Canada qualified for the FIBA Women’s U17 Basketball World Cup 2024 by defeating Puerto Rico 77-49 in the semifinals.
Wheeler pointed to qualifying for the World Cup as the most memorable part of the tournament.
“After the game, it was a lot of fun to celebrate with my teammates. I would say coming in second was pretty good but we obviously just lost a game so it wasn’t really the best feeling.”
The World Cup is scheduled to take place in Mexico and Team Canada will be looking to improve on a fourth-place finish in 2022. Wheeler would love to be with Team Canada again in 2024.
“It’s pretty important. Obviously I have to keep working to secure my spot on the team again next year.”
The daughter of former Brock University player Vanessa Bozza has yet to decide where her basketball career will take her at the post secondary level.
“I would like to go to the States but I am keeping my options open. It’s wherever basketball takes me and I will see what the future holds.”