By: Keegan Matheson
Canadian Paralympic Media Consortium
Sept. 14, 2016 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - When the Paralympic Games come to an end in Rio, members of the Canadian men’s wheelchair basketball team will go their separate ways after months of daily training and playing together.
Adam Lancia will take the time following these Games to decide on his playing future with the national team, but his career within the sport will continue on regardless as the 36-year-old native of Scarborough, Ont. is debuting this fall as the head coach of the women’s wheelchair basketball team at the University of Alabama.
For Lancia’s current head coach Steve Bialowas, this brings full circle a relationship that began 27 years ago when he met a nine-year-old boy at Variety Village in Toronto. It’s the many things Bialowas has watched Lancia become that make him believe he will be successful in this new role.
“He’s a great guy.” said Bialowas. “He’s a friend, he’s one of my players, he’s part of the team, he’s a father, a great father as a matter of fact. He uses those life experiences to share with his family and I’m absolutely proud of him.”
The two-time Paralympic gold medalist has become involved over the past two years with coaching and mentoring some of the national program’s junior players.
National team co-captain David Eng, who has shared those two golds and a World Championship with Lancia in their 12 years together, agrees that the Crimson Tide and Lancia are a great match.
“He’s a great guy, Adam. I love him,” Eng said. “He’s awesome, and I’m pretty sure they’re in good hands in Alabama.
This transition has been a process for Lancia, but at a recent summer camp in Alabama he finally began to feel at home on the court as a non-player.
“I loved being in a gym all day and not even having my ball chair,” Lancia said. “I wasn’t sure. Going into it I knew I wanted to do it, I didn’t know I would love it.”
This will be a family affair as women’s national team member Jamey Jewells, Lancia’s wife, is debuting on the same team as a player this fall.
Alabama pursued Jewells for the past few years but the timing was never quite right. The months following the Rio Games made sense to Jewells, though, and following her own commitment to the school, the stars aligned.
“Then their head coaching job came up,” Lancia said, “and it was like ‘Hey, Jamey, wouldn’t it be funny if he offered me the head coaching job?’, and after he [director of Alabama Adapted Athletics Dr. Brent Hardin] and I talked I called her and said ‘You’re not going to believe this but I was right.’ She said ‘What do you mean?’ I told her they offered me the head coaching job and there was silence on the other end.”
Lancia left his assistant coaching staff prepared to handle Alabama’s preseason while he focuses on Rio, and he’ll be arriving in time for the first official practice on October 1st.