Prior to the postponement of interscholastic athletics due to the COVID-19 outbreak, local middle schools such as Vets and Winman tipped off their unified basketball seasons.
The two clubs squared off last week at Vets, putting on a show in front of friends, family and faculty at the school.
This is the third season that Warwick middle schools have offered unified basketball, and Vets coach Julie Peters has been pleased with the popularity it has had since its first season.
“We really haven't had to do too much to help the sport grow, we always have more students than we need sign up for the basketball team, usually well over 30 students, one year we had over 60 students sign up. I think it helps that we do a couple of games during the school day so the rest of the school can watch the game and see what unified sports are all about. It also gives the players the opportunity to get the experience of having a full house at their game. Everyone always loves it - players, students, faculty & staff,” said Peters.
Peters believes that introducing unified sports, beyond just basketball, is vital in our local schools and communities.
“Unified sports are extremely important to the community. For Vets, in particular, it brings the whole school together when we host our day games. It gives everyone a sense of being included,” said Peters, who has enjoyed seeing her athletes and player-partners’ relationships develop. “The relationships between the athletes and partners have been great, it's awesome seeing them high five or fist pump each other in the hallways. At our first practice, one of our athletes was having a difficult time, three adults tried to get him to participate with no luck, it wasn't until one of our partners went over to him and started talking to him, he then participated. This partner was on the team last year so it's great seeing how much they've grown and developed, it's what it's all about.”
Vets hopes to be able to hit the court in a few weeks, and should the Hurricanes be able to return to play, Peters hopes to see the players continue to create bonds while also learning the ropes of the game.
“Assuming the season continues at some point, we would like to see the relationships between athletes and partners continue to grow and develop, especially our new players to the team,” said Peters. “We would also like to see their basketball skills improve and have our athletes take on more of a leadership role, having them run the stations and guide the athletes.”