IWBF would like to wish Armand “Tip” Thiboutot many happy returns as he celebrates his 80th birthday today!

Armand “Tip” Thiboutot, Ph.D. was the Vice-President of IWBF between 1998 – 2002, following his six-year tenure as Chairman of the Technical Commission for IWBF (1992 until 1998).

Tip was introduced to wheelchair basketball in the mid-1960s after incurring a spinal cord injury while serving in the United States Army. He started his playing career with the New England Clippers in 1968 and founded the Boston Mustangs in 1972. Internationally, Tip was coach of the USA men’s team at the 1984 Stoke Mandeville Paralympic Games and led them to gold at the 1988 Seoul Paralympic Games.

In addition to playing and coaching for more than 40 years, Tip was the Vice-President of NWBA for 15 years and inducted into the NWBA Hall of Fame in 1993, whilst also influential in the development of wheelchair basketball both in the United States as well as the rest of the world from the late 1970’s right up until his retirement in 2002. In recognition of his dedication to the sport, Tip received the IWBF Gold Triad Medal in 2002.

Tip extended his influence with the publication of his writings in Sports ‘N’ Spokes and the IWBF’s Basketball News – both were widely-read by the wheelchair sports community across the world. He was also responsible for editing the IWBF newsletter, publishing articles and issuing reports on technical matters dealing with coaching, player classification, rules, and organization of the sport.

Alongside Stan Labanowich, he also co-wrote the “Wheelchairs Can Jump” book, a fascinating and comprehensive guide to the history of wheelchair basketball, one that includes its origins in the USA and its subsequent development in England and Europe.

Another well-known name from the wheelchair basketball community and good friend to Tip, Horst Strohkendl, said “I met Tip for the first time personally in 1988 during the Seoul Paralympics. I was informed by Stan Labanowich, then the Chairperson of the Wheelchair Basketball subsection of the International Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Sports Federation (ISMWSF), about his involvement in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA): “Tip is a basketball junkee!” and one of the strongest and most enthusiastic advocates of Tim Nugent’s philosophy of athlete’s self-determination. No wonder, that he became the strongest advocate for the player classification system in wheelchair basketball, and even got a reluctant NWBA to apply it for their national competitions.

“For a European like me, it is impossible to assume what significance sport and especially basketball has in the USA. Tip became a great advocate of the “Player Classification System Wheelchair Basketball” and chairing the committee between 1988 and 1992, (replacing Sir Philip Craven after he became President), his technical interest for the sport prevailed. As a former elite basketball player, his heart bounced for the running game and its technical challenges in relation to wheelchair basketball. In his assessment, able-bodied should choose the running game and reserve wheelchair basketball to those athletes with impairments of the lower limbs. Consequently, we had long discussions about wheelchair basketball as a necessary adaptation to basketball or its own sport with its own technical challenges and own history.

“The inclusive idea prevailed in many countries, where able-bodied athletes play in wheelchairs with persons alongside physical impairments. Hopefully they play in a manner that athletes in wheelchairs are not discouraged. A fact which Tip always strongly maintained was that wheelchair basketball was invented by the players in the US starting as early as 1946, contradicting other information in Europe and Stoke Mandeville! He was always wanted to share the history and information about the origins of wheelchair basketball and this can be learned in Tip’s and Stan’s book: “Wheelchairs Can Jump!”

For more information on the book please visit http://www.wheelchairscanjump.com/index.html