Special Olympics Indiana will be hosting basketball sectionals on March 16 at Pike and both the Unified and Traditional teams will be competing. Both teams are hoping to win their games and advance to the state finals.
“I get very competitive during these games and definitely want to make it to state,” head coach Dena Condra said. “We have the opportunity to give Warren their basketball state championship this year.”
The two teams have been practicing hard constantly in order to perform to their fullest capabilities at the tournament and plan to make a strong run for state.
“At practice, we teach the normal fundamentals and are not lenient. It’s a normal practice compared to every other practice, it’s not just some pat on the back. We teach the players to understand the rules of the game and how to compete,” Condra said.
Special Olympics gives individuals with disabilities a chance to participate in sports the same way everyone else does. It helps show that they can perform at the same level of ordinary high school students and that they are not much different than anyone else.
“It makes them feel a part of the school and gets them recognized. It allows other kids in the building to see that they can actually play really well and allows them to open up new friendships,” Condra said.
The Unified team, which consists of both students with disabilities and students without disabilities called partners, the partners are given the opportunity to help others and win championships at the same time. However, their main goal is to simply aid special students as best as they can and provide the greatest experience those students could have wished for.
“For the partners, it is a great opportunity to be leaders and teach athletes more about sports, moves and more. It looks really good on college applications and opens minds on the possibilities involved with working with special individuals. We have really great partners and they get invited to the end of the year rewards,” Condra said.
The teams are always looking for volunteers to help out and are very excited at the prospect of fans to cheer them on during their state run. Warren is also the only high school in Indiana with a Special Olympic basketball team, so it would be a very big deal if they were to win sectionals and advance to state.
“We could use volunteers to help out at practices or join the team as partners. It would be great to have people come out and cheer us on at games,” Condra said. “We went to a Warren basketball game this year and we want other teams to be just as involved with us as we are for them.”