Unified Sports Basketball


Annie Rinne

This fall, Shawnee Mission West created a new program for special needs students: Unified Sports basketball.  Unified Sports is sponsored by the Special Olympics, a program in which special needs and disabled children, teens, and adults are able to play sports. It is just one of the ways for these students to get involved with activities in the West area.

There are two coaches, Dave Tines and Chris Martin. Both of these coaches are parents to students who go to West.

Coach Tines said, “I have great expectations for this program. It is a lot of fun.”

There is also a team organizer, Dawn Lalumondier, who organizes the practices and sets up the tournaments they play in. The students have practice every Monday evening from 7-8 p.m. at West. The West basketball team agreed to lend their jerseys to the Unified Sports players for their tournaments, one of which has already happened. The team won both of the games they played in their tournament.

All of the Unified Sports athletes felt right at home, with a crowd cheering them on.

Senior Shannon Cochren said, “I like it a lot. My favorite part is scoring.”

The next tournament is November 8th at Atchison Middle School. The Unified Sports basketball team will also be playing a game during the Viking Basketball tournament hosted at West November 12-15.

Although the program is new to West, it is sure to stay. All parents, teachers, and students involved have only positive things to say about the program.

Senior Ben Karlin who plays with the Unified Sports team said, “I would say my favorite part was seeing the kids’ reactions to scoring a basket because they were so happy and seeing them work together was awesome.”

The Unified Sports program welcomes spectators and fans to come watch them play.  There are two more opportunities for fellow Vikings to come out and show their support for the Unified basketball team.