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Unified basketball thrives at state, creates special meaning for seniors

Photo courtesy of Mustang Nation

Photo courtesy of Mustang Nation

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For the second consecutive season, the Special Olympics unified basketball team competed in the annual Illinois High School Association Unified Basketball tournament in Peoria this past March 16 and 17. The team fell short in Saturday’s championship game to Pontiac Township by a score of 39-55, yet was able to earn a second place finish.

 

The roster is comprised of seven athletes and five peer partners. An interesting aspect regarding this season’s squad is that out of the twelve members, eight of them are seniors. The team knows that recruiting new participants will be tough heading into next season.

 

“We got kind of lucky because the majority of the team came back but we’re gonna have to kind of start over,” senior and peer partner Elena Burgoon said.

 

However, head coach Travis Saville is optimistic that the team will continue to grow within Metea and the Special Olympics program. He believes that the fact the team has participated in two consecutive State tournaments will continue to attract people who want to participate either as an athlete or partner.

 

“We’re looking for anybody who wants to come out, have a good time and have a chance at going down to State,” Saville said.

 

While the tournament saw tremendous success, the athletes know that there is always room for improvement. Senior Thomas Kuhn is considering participating in an activity similar to Special Olympics in college, so he is taking this past weekend’s results as a chance to see where he can grow his game in the future.

 

“I would’ve liked to put a little more out there. I feel like I had a little more left in me,” Kuhn said.

 

Regardless of the result, one feature that all participants in Special Olympics appreciate is the family-like atmosphere that it creates throughout the school year. Through team bonding, the members are easily able to connect to one another.

 

“I think it offers a different experience, this was a team we got to build from the ground up last year. It’s also a chance to meet new people that I wouldn’t meet otherwise,” Burgoon added.

About the Writer
Connor Smith, Spotlight Editor
Connor Smith is a senior and the Stampede’s spotlight editor. He is thrilled to return for his second year on staff, as he previously served as sports editor during the 2016-17 school year. Aside from the Stampede, Connor also is a member of Metea’s Chamber Choir and Madrigals group, in addition to being a FreshConnect...
1 Comment

One Response to “Unified basketball thrives at state, creates special meaning for seniors”

  1. :) on March 21st, 2018 7:32 am

    Congratulations Unified team! 🙂

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Unified basketball thrives at state, creates special meaning for seniors