Written by Laurel Crosby
Maureen Orchard has had a tremendous impact on the growth and development of wheelchair basketball, both in Canada and internationally for over thirty years.
Maureen began volunteering with wheelchair sports in 1985 when she became treasurer of the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association. She was instrumental in the establishment of the Canadian Wheelchair Basketball Association in 1993 and served as president from 1993 to 1998.
Maureen’s involvement at the international level began in 1991, when she became involved with the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF). She became the president of the IWBF in 2002, was re-elected in 2006 and 2010 and served in that position until 2014. In this role, among many other things, Maureen championed development within the international zones and for enhanced opportunities for junior athletes and women around the world. She spearheaded the introduction of age-specific IWBF World Championships for both junior men and women. The inaugural Men’s U23 World Championship took place in Toronto in 1997 and the first women’s U25 World Championship was hosted by St. Catharine’s in 2011.
Maureen assisted the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation Classification Commission with the development of a new Player Classification and Identity Card System, which was introduced at the 1996 Paralympic games. She designed the database, which is still in use today and ensured that it was accessible to all individuals interested in wheelchair basketball.
Maureen retired as President of the IWBF in 2014. She was subsequently appointed to the position of secretary general of IWBF in 2014.
Maureen has been a lifelong volunteer, serving as a coach, referee, director, president, vice president and treasurer in a number of key organizations, including Basketball Manitoba, Canada Basketball, CWSA, CWBA, CPC and FIBA. Furthermore, she has been recognized by a number of different organizations. She was inducted as a builder into the CWBA Hall of Fame in 1998 and to the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame in the same category in 2015. She was inducted into the Canadian Paralympic Committee Hall of Fame as a builder in 2017.
Wheelchair basketball in Canada and internationally owes much to Maureen for her passionate development and promotion of the sport.