Unifying Mountain View through Basketball

Kaelyn Bates, Reporter

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  Have you ever been to a Unified Basketball game, or even heard of Unified Basketball? Maybe you’ve heard of the Special Olympics, or even just Unified Sports in general? No matter what you have (or have not heard), going to a game to support Mountain View’s athletes is never a bad idea. 

  Unified Basketball is an organized sport, designed for athletes with disabilities. “Unified basketball is when there are kids that don’t have a chance to play on their own terms,” a para for Unified Basketball, Allisyn Budzitowsk, said. The team is made up of the athletes, both boys and girls, and the people who help out, or paras. Paras are students that attend the weekly practice for Unified Basketball, and help the athletes play Unified Basketball “when they need a little assistance with getting rebounds and focusing.” 

  Players practice at Mountain View but also practice outside of their school basketball hours. “I don’t have a basketball hoop, [so] I go to the park and practice sometimes.” A freshman here at Mountain View, Nathan Marr, said. Marr is not just enjoying his first year of high school, either. This is his first year being able to play competitive basketball and is number three on the Unified Basketball team. He is also planning on running track. Another freshman here at Mountain View, Ben Diaz, is also on the Unified Basketball team. “This is my first year playing,” Diaz said. “[but] I hope to continue.”

  Diaz was never able to play basketball before now because it was an extreme medical risk. Despite that, he is now number 11 for Mountain View’s Unified Basketball team. Other players for the basketball team are Adrian Ovalle, Hector Rivera, Issac Taylor, Jacob Ault, Jordan Harman, Anna Avita, Cooper Tokio, and Chance Sweatt. “It’s fun and I stay active. I get to play with my classmates,” Diaz said of what he loves about basketball. “It’s a fun sport and I encourage more kids to play it.”

  For Marr, the best part about Unified Basketball is the game itself. “I can learn a little more; I can shoot more; I can almost drain a three,” he says. Nonetheless, Marr’s passion for sports also drives him to a feeling that most people get when they want more of their passion. “We only have one practice a week,” Marr said. “I wish we had more.” 

  As Marr stated, Unified Basketball only hosts one practice a week, compared to other sports that practice five times a week. Knowing this, Marr insisted that he would rather play “real” basketball. So please show these athletes support and come to the next home game, Feb. 26!