Uni­fied bas­ket­ball bring­ing stu­dents to­gether

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

In­side the gym­na­sium at Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate, the school’s Spe­cial Olympians are get­ting a crash course in bas­ket­ball.

Un­der the watch­ful eye of a group of stu­dent vol­un­teers, the dozen or so ath­letes are go­ing through drills at both ends of the gym.

Grade 11 stu­dent Blake Loveys is just one of half-a-dozen stu­dents vol­un­teer­ing with the project. He spends a lot of time guid­ing his class­mates

The pro­gram vol­un­teers lead the Spe­cial Olympians through drills. They take turns throw­ing bounce passes, drib­bling and shoot­ing the ball.

Started by Spe­cial Olympics NL, it’s one of three pi­lot pro­grams tak­ing place at high schools in the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion re­gion. The other cen­tres are Cres­cent Col­le­giate in Blake­town and As­cen­sion Col­le­giate in Bay Roberts.

Like the rest, Loveys makes sure the ath­letes know where they’re shoot­ing, pass­ing and teaches them how to drib­ble.

If they don’t get it right the first time, there’s al­ways plenty of en­cour­age­ment to keep im­prov­ing.

When things do go right, a big cheer res­onates off the gym walls fol­lowed by plenty of slaps on the back.

It’s only been a month of prac­tice for the group and al­ready peo­ple around the pro­gram are see­ing plenty of im­prove­ment.

All of this is a part of the school’s uni­fied bas­ket­ball pro­gram.

Bas­ket­ball is just the be­gin- ning. There are plans to in­cor­po­rate other teams sports into the fold in the fu­ture.

Teacher Danielle Doyle sees the pro­gram as more than a sport­ing event. She sees it as a way to bring stu­dents from dif­fer­ent parts of the school to­gether.

“I have more stu­dents than I can count in­ter­ested in coach­ing, reff­ing and do­ing any­thing they can to be a part of it, which is a pos­i­tive thing,” she told The Com­pass last Thurs­day. “It’s cre­at­ing bonds be­tween stu­dents in our build­ing. Some­times the stu­dents be­cause of their abil­i­ties, there’s a lot of classes they can’t be in­cluded in. There are a lot that they can be, but with this pro­gram they’re all on an even play­ing field.

“They get to work to­gether as a team. It’s friend­ships that are de­vel­op­ing that might not oth­er­wise had the op­por­tu­nity to de­velop.”

There is a tour­na­ment be­ing held on Dec. 2 in Car­bon­ear. It’s three-on-three for­mat pairs two Spe­cial Olympians with one vol­un­teer play­ing a game in a half­court set­ting.

With 12 Spe­cial Olympians, Car­bon­ear will be en­ter­ing six teams, with the oth­ers com­ing from Cres­cent and As­cen­sion. The win­ner has chance to head to Ottawa.

So far, the pro­gram has been well re­ceived by the school’s pop­u­la­tion.

“I don’t have to per­suade any of them to go out to the gym,” said Doyle. “When I say we’re go­ing out for bas­ket­ball prac­tice, they all go and they go will­ingly. Be­fore I even get to the gym, they’re usu­ally out there ready to go.”

It’s been a thrill for the stu­dents vol­un­teer­ing with the pro­gram.

Loveys got in­volved be­cause Doyle needed the help and he had some ex­pe­ri­ence with bas­ket­ball.

“Any chance to help out and I’ll do what I can,” he said. “It’s re­ally fun. It’s a great feel­ing help­ing out and giv­ing back.”

It’s cre­at­ing bonds be­tween stu­dents in our build­ing. Some­times the stu­dents be­cause of their abil­i­ties, there’s a lot of classes they can’t be in­cluded in. Danielle Doyle

NI­CHOLAS MERCER/TC ME­DIA

Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate stu­dents Blake Loveys (left) and Ally Cleary help Spe­cial Olympian Josh Cur­ran with shoot­ing a bas­ket­ball dur­ing a uni­fied bas­ket­ball prac­tice on Nov. 3.

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