SPOTLIGHT: Special needs students now have their own basketball tournament
Local high schools come together for the second Unified Basketball Tournament
The 4Frenzy team wants to highlight something amazing happening that involves lots of local high schools!
The first of its kind in Michigan, a 10-team basketball tournament for special needs high school students was held at Novi High School this past Friday. The event is more than double the size it was in its first year, which was just one year ago.
This joint effort makes the Unified basketball games just as thrilling and rewarding for the players as it is at a varsity high school basketball tournament. The only difference is that the atmosphere is maybe filled with even more positive energy.
Teams from different schools are cheering each other on and everyone there is supporting each other. There are winners (congratulations to Brighton High School’s Unified team for winning the tournament!) but the most important thing is really the experience for all the players.
The athletes on the team accomplish all their big plays on their own, with only some help from their peers. The peers that assist their high school’s Unified team can be athletes on the school’s varsity team, for example, who want to help give a chance to others to feel the accomplishment that they get to have during their own games.
“It can really help change the culture of a school," said George Sipple, Novi staff. "You have the athletes and their peers who help them with a rebound. The peers don’t shoot during the games, it’s really about helping the athletes get the most out of a game. Some of the peers are athletes themselves and want to give the students a spotlight.”
On top of all this, what’s really great about the Unified tournament is that it encourages more schools to participate or form their own unified teams. High schools will contact those who take part in the tournament to ask about what kinds of sports they have unified teams for, and to receive advice on how to go about starting their own.
In fact, this past Saturday the Oakland Activities Association had their own version of a unified basketball event for the first time. According to Sipple, the MHSAA has also talked about one day possibly adding Unified under its umbrella.
This Kensington Lakes Activities Association (KLAA) Unified Tournament was begun last year in conjunction with MHSAA and Special Olympics Michigan. We look forward to seeing how it grows each year!
See Local 4′s Jamie Edmonds’ coverage of the event below!
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We would like to thank our sponsor Ralph Jr. Wilson Foundation’s Project Play for their support!
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