LORAIN, Ohio (WJW) — For the first time since the start of the pandemic, high schoolers from four different high schools near Cleveland are getting the chance to compete together on the hardwood.
The Unified Basketball Special Olympics brings together students with special needs and students without disabilities for a friendly hoops tournament.
“Our kids relish this day, as is our entire staff and building,” Lorain High School Intervention Specialist Dan Blatt said. “It really is an inclusive thing. It shows the inclusivity of our school, diversity, and kids just getting along, competing together. It’s a really great day.”
Lorain High School was the host site for the event that also included Amherst, Max Hayes and Elyria high schools.
For the students, the event was more fun than competition.
“Because I’m happy to do it, making a basket and playing basketball, so it’s good for me,” Lorain junior Gerardina Parra said.
Lorain senior basketball player Anthony Lorenzo got to coach the game — a role that he takes great pride in.
“Build special connections with each and every player that we have, either if they are special needs or not,” Lorenzo said. “We just want them to have the best experience as possible.”
The Cleveland Cavaliers radio announcer Tim Alcorn delivered play-by-play over the television broadcast, making the day even more special for the students.
While the games were competitive, winning or losing didn’t really matter. Being on the hardwood together was more important.
“I just want them to have the same experience that we have on those Tuesday nights and Friday nights,” Lorenzo said.
Blatt said Lorain is already looking forward to the next event, which will be centered around track and field, in the spring.