Holley school eyes basketball program that would be open to players with disabilities

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 24 November 2015 at 12:00 am

HOLLEY – The Holley Central School District is in the process of forming a unified basketball team that would include students with disabilities.

Athletic Director Dan Courtney discussed progress with members of the Board of Education during a meeting last week.

Special Olympics unified sports is a national program that pairs people with and without intellectual disabilities on a team to compete. Individuals have to play at least six minutes in every game.

“It’s a state recognized sport,” Courtney said, and added that he recently attended a meeting at Gates-Chili to learn more about the program. He also said Brockport Central School has been very helpful.

“It creates an opportunity for kids who normally would not be part of a team,” he said. “The community gets to see their kids compete and do things against other schools … and it’s an opportunity to have fun.”

Courtney said the program can be funded through grants.

He explained that on a typical team, three athletes with intellectual disabilities are combined with two partners without disabilities. There were six unified teams in Section V last year, Courtney said.

He has worked with the school’s special education department to compile a list of students who could take part.

“I think we would have enough,” Courtney said. “Partners are usually easier to find. They cannot be varsity or JV basketball players. They could run track or play baseball.”

Unified Basketball is considered a boys sport, but Courtney said that’s because it’s easier for girls to join a boys sport than vice-versa.

“I think it’s fantastic,” Board member John Heise said.