Unified Basketball Season Overview
The Unified basketball team, coached by Dallas Strankman, wrapped up its season during their second year at Fairview.
The team lost two games they played this season, including the game against rival school Boulder High.
The team hosted the Boulder-Fairview game this year on Thursday, April 20th, and they won by a narrow margin of 2 points, finishing with a total of 33 points.
Prior to the game, Strankman said, “We really want to make sure that we win that one. Cause for me it’s competitive, and I want to make sure that we win. There’s a lot of fun, but I want to win.”
Fairview lost to Broomfield during the first game of the season, finishing with 34 points against Broomfield’s 42.
Unified basketball is not specific from Fairview.
“Unified basketball is from Special Olympics, and it’s an organized competitive sport league,” said Strankman.
The team is composed of special education students, called athletes, and peer helpers, called partners.
“They intermix and play competitive basketball- equally,” Strankman said.
Junior Alex Burger, a peer, joined due to her involvement in adaptive P.E., even though she says that she is not the best basketball player.
“I built really strong relationships with some of the students. When I heard about the unified basketball team I signed up right away,” Burger said in an email.
According to Strankman, the peers take on much of the responsibility for running the team.
“It’s amazing, the peers naturally just jump in and take over,” Strankman said. “I don’t want to be overbearing… Every once in awhile I have to jump in and model how to handle a certain student, but I let them do it their way. It’s their show.”
“My favorite part about being on the team is just how much joy it brings me,” Burger said. “Even when my competitive side comes out, I am still laughing and smiling and having the time of my life with these kids.”
Many of the athletes have their own nicknames: Action Jackson Reamer, Coca Kohlor Von Eschen, Super Mario Martinez, Avery Thunder Shot Ponder, Fiona The Great White Shark Nolan, Famous Amos Plentywolf, and Ryan the Hurricane Schirmer.
According to Strankman, Mary Cruz Lopez Florez is “one of the team’s best defenders.” Her favorite part of being on the team is shooting baskets.
“Yes, I like basketball a lot,” Florez said.
Florez also thinks that Strankman is a good coach.
“[My favorite part] is that we all work together,” said athlete Avery Ponder.
According to Strankman, the athletes’ practicing has improved from last year.
“You guys are doing good this year at practice,” Strankman said to the athletes. “Last year was a little, a little weak. But this year it’s tightened up a lot. You guys have improved a lot too.”
Burger said that despite the fact that the team lost two games, the season was still “awesome.”
Burger’s favorite memory from the season is when the coach from Centaurus made a hoop shape with his arms so that Jackson Reamer, who is in a wheelchair, could try to shoot a basket.
“The sportsmanship the other team showed was awesome and the smile on Jackson's face was priceless,” Burger said.
Strankman said that they are considering adding more Unified sports, such as bowling or bocce ball.
According to Strankman, the only problem with Unified bowling is that it is not “spectator friendly.”
“We like to add sports that everybody can contribute to equally,” Strankman said.
Strankman appreciates when the community comes to cheer the team on at the games, as well as their support in general.
“It’s a competitive league for us, and we appreciate that everybody respects that,” Strankman said.
“I think unified sports are so cool because they give everyone a chance to apart of a team,” Burger said.
Note: There are actually more than 4,500 elementary, middle, or high schools involved with Unified Sports, but the exact number is unknown.