Foran High offers Unified Sports in basketball, track, soccer, bowling, and even Wiffleball, giving special needs students several opportunities to learn different games and experience teamwork in somewhat of a competitive setting.
The Lions’ Unified Sports program just completed its winter basketball campaign, during which athletes practiced passing, shooting the ball and, most importantly, sportsmanship with the help of their peers, who served as partners, assisting the players on the court.
Athletes learned to share the ball not only with teammates but also with opposing players during mostly-for-fun competitions. Partners help athletes as needed, stepping in to lend a hand when necessary, but while promoting as much involvement as possible by athletes with varying special needs.
“This is really great because it provides the partners with leadership responsibilities they might not get,” Rick Raucci, who along with Meghan Basher, coached the Unified Sports squad during weekly practices and several games and multi-school tournaments. “Every year it’s really rewarding to see them play because they enjoy it. They genuinely enjoy being here.”
Ryan Vieira, a junior at Foran High, has been involved with Unified Sports for two years.
“It feels good helping them. I make sure everybody gets a chance with the ball,” Vieria said.
It is clear that the partners and athletes alike come out of practices and competitions feeling a sense of accomplishment. Just like teammate forge friendships in varsity sports, the partners and athletes connect on and off the playing surfaces.
“They (partners) get really close with a lot of the athletes which is great,” Raucci said.
Foran Unified Sports basketball team members are Gabrielle Foster, Tiffany Truini, Tyler Snyder, Tiana Albuquerque, Emerson Mayville, Amanda Grisier, Jordan Fox, Chelsea Aliberti, Paul Pierelli, Peter Marinello, Scott Leiper, John Lott, Kenny Szygiel, Johnny Perez, Brian Flanagan, Ryan Vieira and Chris Edmonds.