Post written by Mary Desmond
Groton-Dunstable is excited to add Unified Basketball this season. Unified Sports is an initiative that combines equal numbers of Special Olympics athletes and athletes without intellectual disabilities (called partners).
Groton-Dunstable has joined 9 other teams in the pilot season. Special Olympics of Massachusetts Basketball Leagues are based upon successful Special Olympics programs using the principles and programs of Project Unify, Unified Sports, and Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) rules and guidelines. Unified Sports leagues strive to help promote climates of dignity, respect, and inclusion in schools for students with and without intellectual disabilities.
Principal Michael Mastrullo had this to say about the program. “We are really proud of several of the programs we have created at our school and I count Unified Track and now Unified Basketball as two of the very best. The coaches are just phenomenal. Ann Valacer, Joyce Bennett, and Mary Desmond bring so much to the table each and every day working in the PAVE program. They truly are all-star employees, and the school and the community are fortunate to have them and this wonderful program. I am glad the community was able to witness a sliver of their efforts during the Unified Basketball season. Lastly, I am so proud to see our athletes and partners work selflessly and compete together as a team should. They are an example for us all.”
The first game was on November 10th against Fitchburg High School. The final score was Fitchburg 33 Groton-Dunstable 28. This score does not reflect how all our athletes and partners played. Every individual contributed offensively and defensively in the hard fought season comprised of 5 games.
Brian Waters felt the season was very exciting. “I was giving high fives to my team mates after I scored my first high school basket.” Ben McEvoy felt the season was fun and intense. “It was nice to see how many students in the stands to support us throughout the entire season.”
Coach Ann Valacer felt the entire season was a great success. “ I think I smiled the whole season and loved watching all our athletes and partners compete against another team.”
We fully intend to continue the Unified Basketball program next season and we are eager for the spring weather and the Unified Track program to commence in just a few months.