They say good things come in small packages and, in the case of Jonathan Law’s Unified Sports program, that certainly is the case.
Law’s Unified basketball program, featuring special needs athletes and their partners, peers who assists them, had 16 participants, less than half the number of some of the programs Law competed against.
With emphasis on player participation over the win-first mantra that goes hand in hand with varsity-level sports, less is more in the Unified sports scene.
Sportsmanship is also a main objective in the program, with participants encouraged to not only cheer on their teammates but also opposing school representatives— and help them when necessary during games.
“It’s fun. The best part is when I shoot baskets,” player Luigi DeCastro said as Law recently completed a season chock full of practices, games and tournaments.
Law coach Pat Daniels said: “It’s really great to see their skill level increase as we practice more and more and compete in the tournaments and utilize their skills whenever they’re on the court.”
Liz Hayden, a senior on the softball team, has been a partner in the program for two years.
“It’s a good experience. The kids enjoy it,” said Hayden, adding that she was pleasantly surprised with the program when she first got on board in her junior year. “It was a lot different than I expected. We just have to steer them. They do most of the work.”
There is plenty of growth not only in terms of game play on the court but when it comes to life skills, for the athletes and partners just the same.
“They sometimes build lifelong friendships that continue well after high school which is nice to see,” Daniels said.