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The independent student media site of West Linn High School

wlhsNOW

The independent student media site of West Linn High School

wlhsNOW

Shooting for unity

The Unified Basketball team strives to unite the community through basketball
Unified basketball is open for anyone that wants to join.
Garrett Arendt
Unified basketball is open for anyone that wants to join.

Unified Basketball is a team dedicated to giving students with disabilities the opportunity to play basketball. Unified basketball consists of two types of players, the Unified athletes and the partner athletes. Pedro Garcia, junior, is one of the partner athletes.

“You get to help out different kids from different backgrounds,” Garcia said. “You get to make them feel like they’re a part of something, and that’s basically the whole point of ‘Unified.’ We’re trying to make them feel welcome in that particular sport.”

Teachers at the school also get involved with the sport. Ryan Jordan, psychology teacher, has coached Unified basketball for three years.

“We have yet to get to that stage where we’re contacting parents and telling them to make their children do it. We’re still at that stage where we want people to join because it’s fun,” Jordan said. “It builds community, any kind of team you’re on, regardless of personnel that you make good friendships there, both with the partner athletes and the Unified athletes.”

Unified Basketball aims to welcome anyone who wants to join. Students can contact Neal Glynn, Health teacher, Jordan, or Laurie Winkler, Athletic Secretary, for more information. Glynn can be found in room A102, while Jordan can be found in room B203.

“It impacts both the community around it and it really opens up an insight,” Garcia said. “We’re not really that different, we both laugh and cry and we enjoy sports and just getting to know people. So it really isn’t that much different, outside of that class everyone, to some extent, is similar.”

Unified Basketball typically meets in the main gym or ox gym after school. For Jordan, coaching Unified Basketball goes beyond just teaching a sport.

I mean, we’re just coaching. Hopefully the students, like everyone, learn teamwork and learn how to play basketball at least a little better,” Jordan said. “But teamwork, especially [with] learning how to understand everyone’s skill level and adapt your game to your teammates.”

Unified sports is a class that any student is welcome to sign up for.  The class is taught by Neal Glynn, Health teacher, and Jordan.

“You get a grade in that class and also you get participation points if you’re in that class. And also it’s a form of volunteering, that’s essentially what you’re doing,” Garcia said.

It impacts both the community around it and it really opens up an insight. We’re not really that different, we both laugh and cry and we enjoy sports and just getting to know people. So it really isn’t that much different, outside of that class everyone, to some extent, is similar.”

— Pedro Garcia

A partner athlete is the athlete that is in the class, and is helping out the Unified athletes. With the partner athletes, Jordan wants to contribute to Unified Basketball and create an impact.

We’re always looking for more partner athletes to be able to team up with our Unified athletes and sometimes it’s a struggle to get people who can commit,” Jordan said. “Everyone who does it really enjoys it. So I think it’s more of a messaging that’s like, ‘Hey, if you do this, we’ll have lots of fun.’ Hopefully the more popular and the more well known the program is, the easier it will be to get partner athletes and sustainable year-after-year athletes so we have a strong robust program.”

Unlike other sports in high school, Unified sports have no requirements to participate in the sport.

“It really doesn’t matter whether you’re a student or you’re a student athlete, or you’re just into that particular sport,” Garcia said. “It’s a very good club tailored towards that and you get to have fun.”

 

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About the Contributor
Garrett Arendt, Student Life Editor
In addition to being the student life section editor, Garrett Arendt, sophomore, likes to play sports, video games, and hang out with friends. Journalism has been something he has been interested in since he entered high school, and he enjoys writing student life and arts and entertainment articles. Later in life, he hopes that these skills will provide him assistance with getting into a good college and a good job.
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