MHS hosts Unified Sports basketball tourney

By Wally Robinson - ReminderNews
Manchester - posted Fri., Mar. 25, 2011
Unified Sports teams from Bristol East and Newington high schools face off in one of the round-robin matches. Photos by Wally Robinson.
Unified Sports teams from Bristol East and Newington high schools face off in one of the round-robin matches. Photos by Wally Robinson.

Basketball is the name of the game in the month of March, and the Unified Sports teams for students with and without intellectual disabilities from many local schools got together for their annual tournament at Manchester High School.

High school squads from Rockville, Tolland, Stafford, Southington, Newington, Farmington/Avon, East Hartford, Bristol, Berlin and Manchester competed.

The games consisted of two eight-minute periods, with three games being contested simultaneously in the Manchester gym in a round-robin format. The teams were made up of three players with disabilities (the athletes) and two without (the partners). The partners on the teams were allowed to dribble and pass, but the athletes themselves did all the shooting, using an undersized ball.

Gregg Oberlander, a special education teacher, serves as coach for the Manchester High School Unified Sports basketball team, though he never played that particular sport himself. “I’m a hockey guy,” he laughed, “but when they asked me to do it last year, I figured, ‘Why not?’ I work with the kids all the time anyway. We practice once a week, and one of the wonderful aspects of the program is the participation of the regular kids. They’ve just been terrific.”

Though scores were kept and therefore each game had winners and losers, no championships were celebrated, and no trophies were handed out.

“The main thing with these kids is to participate,” said assistant director Ken Bragg. “To that end, all of them are awarded medals at the end of the day.”

A social hour and dance was held for the team members to enjoy following the tournament.

In addition to basketball, the Unified Sports athletes compete in soccer in the fall and volleyball and track and field events in the spring.


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