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RCHS Unified Basketball Team unites with Ponderosa

RCHS Unified Team players and peer coaches pose for the camera prior to the
January 14 scrimmage against Ponderosa High School at RCHS.

Article and photo by Michael Shapiro, RCHS intern writer

On Tuesday, January 14, Rock Canyon High School (RCHS) special education students participated in a unified basketball game with students from Ponderosa High School.  Occurring two-to-three times a month, players on the Unified Team get the opportunity to wear the jerseys and play a game they truly love.

These games, which are held in the RCHS gym, are rewarding for the players, but they are also incredibly rewarding for the peer coaches who help guide the players throughout the game.

“I love watching everybody have fun and improve on the court,” said volunteer and RCHS senior Connor Skoglund.  “It’s great to meet new kids and to be with them as much as I can.”  

Fellow volunteer and RCHS senior Robbie Maldonado echoed Skoglund’s love for the program.   “I’ve been a part of this program since my sophomore year,” Maldonado said. “These kids are the best. They’re the nicest people and they just love to have fun out there.”  

Due to the few number of Ponderosa players that were able to attend, RCHS lent some of their players to them in order to create even teams.  This led to the game being only a scrimmage, but one wouldn’t be able to tell by the atmosphere in the gym. The scrimmage was accompanied by a halftime dance performance by the the Unified Team and RCHS Principal Andrew Abner was in attendance.

“I try to come to come to every unified home game; they’re my favorite games to attend,” Abner said.  “It’s such a positive environment here, and everybody is always happy with the outcome of the game.”  

At the final buzzer, the RCHS team lost the scrimmage by a score of 71-58, but the score isn’t what really matters.  What matters is the camaraderie among the coaches, players, and fans and the opportunity the team receives to play the game they so dearly love.  As Educational Assistant Leslie Maldonado put it, “Seeing the joy our kids get playing and being supported by their coaches and school in general is just great.”    

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