Wheelchair Basketball Week: Nik Goncin

Celebrating National Wheelchair Basketball Week, we shine the spotlight on a dedicated player within our sporting family—Nik Goncin; A seasoned Team Canada player and a member of The Calgary Rollers.

Goncin’s journey in wheelchair basketball began in 2008 and quickly snowballed into an international career. After losing his leg, he didn’t have much interest in pursuing basketball. However, after trying wheelchair basketball in high school and being approached by the coach to try, he came out the following week and was hooked. He recalls, “It was nothing like what I had imagined, and I quickly fell in love with the pace and aggressiveness of the game”. Fast forward to today, Goncin is aiming for his third Paralympic appearance, having honed his skills on the hometown courts of Regina, SK, and now in Calgary.

Goncin’s career is punctuated by memorable moments, with the semi-final victory at the 2015 Para Pan American Games in Toronto standing out. An underdog story, this win propelled the team to a much-deserved spot in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

Goncin’s approach to getting ready for games, while straightforward, is carefully crafted to meet the demands of top-level competition; the right nutrition, the pre-game routine, and dedicated mental training practices, all aiming to conquer his toughest adversary—the mind game.

“The mental part of the game has been my biggest challenge and on the flip side, the biggest personal gain in the last few years.”

Goncin’s training regime mirrors the commitment required to excel in a team-based sport like wheelchair basketball. The schedule varies, typically packed with on-court drills, weightlifting to supplement his court skills, and of course, a good dose of mental health exercises.

For those teetering on the edge of giving wheelchair basketball a shot, Goncin’s advice is emphatic—”Give it a go, it’s an aggressive, hard-hitting team sport that comes with a magnificent community behind it .” Beyond personal achievements, Goncin’s unyielding focus extends to mentoring rising athletes, nurturing their dreams of international play and a hopeful spot on the Canadian roster.

Away from basketball and training, Goncin’s love for the outdoors takes over. Whether it be hiking in the Rockies, having a go at golf or disc golf, kayaking on the Bow, or simply playing frisbee with his dog, Toby, Goncin maintains an active lifestyle. As the seasons change, Goncin exchanges the basketball court for snowy slopes.

While not one for superstitions, Goncin’s game-day routine contains a non-negotiable —his favorite pair of socks. An interesting tidbit about Goncin—he and his family immigrated as refugees from Former Yugoslavia in the mid-90s, and he maintains fluent communication with his extended family.

Goncin along with the rest of the Senior Men’s National Team are currently preparing for the Para Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile in November 2023. This will be the teams first chance to qualify for the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris, France. Keep an eye out for updates!

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