2022.02.06 Unified Basketball: Lightridge Tournament

Aldie, VA (February 6, 2022) - Until today, I did not know much about Unified Sports. I understood the concept and the association with Special Olympics, but I had not seen sports played in the spirit as defined at specialolympics.org:

"In Unified Sports, teams are made up of people of similar age and ability. That makes practices more fun and games more challenging and exciting for all. Having sport in common is just one more way that preconceptions and false ideas are swept away."

Eight teams joined in for a mid-winter tournament with two games for everyone, and a full slate of matchups on the beautiful Lightridge campus. Joining the host team were: Broad Run, G.C. Marshall, Independence, Riverside, Stone Bridge, Wakefield, and Woodson.

Chas Sumser Photography was there to capture the action and emotion and posted a gallery of images from the games.

Each team is composed of Athletes and Partners. The Athletes are the competitors, and the Partners--volunteer students--keep the game flowing and make sure that all of the Athletes stay involved and have opportunities to contribute fully.

And yes, maybe "dribbling" is somewhat of a loosely applied term, but there are rules and the players know how to compete within them. The score is kept, but everyone wins and no one loses. When someone scores it is cause for celebration--by both teams and all of the friends and families who have come to watch.

I was touched by moments of pure joy such as the Marshall player scoring and then running into the crowd to "high-five" with his parents. I was moved by the coaches and Partners who coaxed and encouraged the timid and gently redirected the wayward when it was needed. And I was impressed with the dedicated coaches and the referees who provide a framework that makes it a game and, at the same time, a celebration.

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