(Ottawa, ON) - Canada's Sr. National Wheelchair Basketball Teams are ready to take on the world as the the Canadian Wheelchair Basketball
Association (CWBA) announces the names of the two individuals who will lead the esteemed programs in their continued pursuit of the podium.
Jerry Tonello has been named Head Coach of the Canadian Men's Wheelchair Basketball Team, while Winnipeg native Bill Johnson takes over as Head Coach
of the Canadian Women's Wheelchair Basketball Team.


As long time assistant coaches of their respective programs, both individuals bring a wealth of expertise and international coaching experience to their new roles. They assume charge of two of the most highly respected and internationally successful teams in Canadian sports.

"Given their proven talents behind the bench, tremendous technical knowledge, and outstanding rapport with the players, it is a very easy and natural transition welcoming Jerry and Bill into their new roles - they are both great fits within our organization," said Wendy Gittens, CWBA Executive Director.

"Each will play a crucial role in the ongoing success of our sport in Canada and abroad, and I am very confident in their abilities to lead our Senior National Teams."

Tonello and Johnson will oversee all aspects of long term wheelchair basketball athlete development in Canada with a focus on high performance achievement at upcoming World Championships and Paralympic Games, while contributing to the physical, psychological and social development of each athlete in the program.

Bill Johnson - Canadian Women's Head Coach

Bill JohnsonCanadian women's coach Bill Johnson poses with members of the
Canadian Women's Wheelchair Basketball Team at the 2008 Beijing
Paralympic Games in September. Back in January they won the warm up
event: "The 2008 Good Luck Beijing Invitational Tournament" solidifying
their status as one of the top teams in the world.

The Canadian Women's Team is also undergoing a transitional period as
Johnson inherits the role of chief bench boss after serving as an
assistant coach with the team for the past three years. Prior to that,
he served as an assistant coach with the Men's National Team. In total,
Johnson brings over a decade of international coaching experience to
his new job along with a passion for the strategic aspects of coaching.

"I'm extremely honoured to be taking over as Head Coach of the Women's National Team," said Johnson. "This is my chance to test my abilities at the highest level and
something that I have wanted and have been working toward for a very
long time. I thoroughly enjoy the thrill of coaching that comes from
being better prepared, making adjustments on the fly, and out-thinking
the opposition."

At the domestic level Johnson has earned numerous accolades as Head
Coach of the Manitoba Men's (2001-Present) and Women's Teams
(1997-1999) from the Manitoba Wheelchair Sports Association (MWSA)
including three Merit Awards, two Coaching Recognition Awards for
"Exceptional Coaching Contribution", and two "Volunteer of the Year"

In 2006-2007, the CWBA named Johnson "Coach of the Year," acknowledging
his strong technical background and proven knack for planning and
preparing for success. He was also a finalist for the Stephan Dubuc
Memorial Award in 2004 as "the developmental coach of the year."

Now the Winnipeg, Manitoba native is charged with the task of getting
Canada's Women's Wheelchair Basketball Team back to the top of the
world rankings following nearly unparalleled international success from
1990 to 2008 in which they won nine straight podium finishes at major
international competitions including gold medals at the 1992, 1996, and
2000 Paralympic Games and at the 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2006 World

Johnson is an innovative coach that combines excellent inter-personal
skills with a strong technical background making him as approachable as
he is knowledgeable.

"It is a very exciting time to be part the sport in Canada right now
because many of the young players on the team are ready to take the
next step and move into star roles. At the same time it is nice to have
such a strong veteran presence to help ease our transition into the
next quadrennial," said Johnson.

Johnson has a Kinesiology degree from the University of Winnipeg and is
a NCCP Level 3 Certified Coach in both wheelchair and stand-up
basketball. His brother Joey Johnson is a star player with the Men's
National Team, while his sister Mandy also coaches wheelchair
basketball in Manitoba.


Jerry Tonello - Canadian Men's Head Coach

With nearly two decades of involvement with the Men's National Team, Tonello earned his first of many international accomplishments in his first year as an assistant coach of the team - winning gold at the 1991 Stoke Mandeville Games. Last year his uncompromising hard work and dedication cumulated into a temporary promotion to Associate Head Coach, prior to seizing exclusive head coaching duties.

Tonello excels at utilizing video analysis software and other cutting-edge technologies to help his athletes breakdown detailed game footage ensuring they stay ahead of the curve.

"It provides great satisfaction to know that a journey that began in wheelchair basketball over 30 years ago has lead to being named as Head Coach of our Men's National Team," said Tonello.

Canada is looking to Tonello to build on the numerous successes he has shared with the Canadian Men's Team. He helped lead the team to back-to-back Paralympic Gold Medals in 2000 and 2004, as well as a Gold Medal at the 2006 World Championships. Most recently he was in Beijing where they won a Silver Medal at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.

"The satisfaction of getting a group of men all pulling together to strive toward the common goal of winning a gold medal is what it is all about. Teamwork through sacrifice and hard work provides valuable lessons that are easily transferrable and valuable in other areas of one's life," said Tonello.

Tonello is a National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) Level 3 Certified wheelchair basketball coach who holds a Bachelor of Physical Education from York University, a Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto, and is a Chartered Financial Planner. He was awarded a commemorative Government of Canada medal for "Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee" and "125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada" for community service.

At the domestic level, the Toronto, Ontario native has earned ten gold medals with Team Ontario and is recognized in Canada as the first able bodied player to compete at the National Championships in 1992. While able bodied players can participate in wheelchair basketball in Canada, they are not currently permitted to compete internationally.

With the loss of a few key athletes to retirement following the Beijing Games Tonello recognizes that building and maintaining a program that identifies talent will be one of his biggest challenges to assure future success. His collaborative skills combined with an emphasis on physical conditioning and attention to detail in execution will be instrumental for Canada moving forward.


First up for Tonello and the Canadian Men's Team will be a training camp, followed by a tournament at the University of Illinois January 19-25, 2009.

Johnson and the Canadian Women's Team are scheduled to train in Vancouver from February 13-15, 2009 before attending the Osaka Cup in Japan from February 16-22, 2009.

About Canadian Wheelchair Basketball Association

The Canadian Wheelchair Basketball Association (CWBA) is the National Sports Governing Body responsible for the organization of wheelchair basketball in Canada. The CWBA is a world leader that is committed to sport excellence in the development, support and promotion of wheelchair basketball programs and services for all Canadians.

For more information please contact:

Jody Kingsbury, Communications

Canadian Wheelchair Basketball Association

(613) 260-1296


World Leaders in Wheelchair Basketball

for more on the CWBA, go to http://www.cwba.ca

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