Greece Central School District’s Unified Basketball program enjoyed another successful season in spring 2018.
Coaches Nick Defendorf and Ashley Krajna recruited students from the district’s four high schools to participate in the program.
Unified Basketball provides students with disabilities the opportunity to play alongside their peers in a competitive setting. For some, it was their first experience with organized athletics and the opportunity to wear a uniform representing their school.
Despite being an athletic contest, the atmosphere is more about enjoying the opportunity and being with friends. During games, student-athletes blew kisses to crowd, ran off the court in excitement, helped friends get into a scoring position and participated in group dance parties at the half.
Athena’s varsity and junior varsity baseball teams ended practice early to form a human tunnel during pregame announcements at one recent game, and cheered on their classmates from the stands.
Parent reaction to the program is overwhelmingly positive.
“My son’s social skills have improved, along with his behavior in school,” one parent said. “I do not want it to end. I wish there were more unified opportunities for our son.”
“Our victory is not the win, it is the experience and the journey of the team,” another parent said. “I have fought back tears of happiness watching my son play.”