The walls echoed with applause and cheers as fans of both teams supported every play made during the Englewood-Littleton Special Olympics basketball game played Jan. 22 at Englewood High School. Each …
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The walls echoed with applause and cheers as fans of both teams supported every play made during the Englewood-Littleton Special Olympics basketball game played Jan. 22 at Englewood High School.
Each team moved the ball up and down the court quickly and a lot of points were scored. When the final buzzer sounded, Englewood won the game 108-100.
“The rules are quite different for Special Olympics games,” said Kim DeHaven, Englewood coach. “For example a player doesn't have to follow the usual rules and always dribble the ball to move the ball up the court. At times a player just carries the ball in his or her hands. Also, halfway through each 12-minute quarter, a team of new players takes the place of players on the court for each team.”
Other special rules include allowing the defender to only raise his or hands to try to block a shot and, if the player's shot doesn't go in the basket, the ball is returned to him or her for another shot.
Littleton's team had one player in a wheelchair. When the player was given the ball and held it in his lap, a volunteer pushed the wheelchair down the court and a hand-held basket was placed at the end line so he could roll the ball off his lap into the basket.
DeHaven said all the coaches are volunteers. She said she really enjoys her volunteer work with Special Olympics and plans to stick with it.
“We don't have a big schedule. We held three practices and then will play about nine games this season,” DeHaven said. “Our team schedule also includes playing a couple tournaments and that includes the state tournament at the end of the season.”
The coach has nine players on the Englewood basketball roster this season. Some have been playing with the team for several years, while this is the first year on the squad for players including Dakata Rainey.
“One of my friends told me playing basketball was fun so I joined the team this year,” she said. “It is a lot of fun playing on the team with my friends. I also like to shoot the ball and I smile when I see my shot go into the basket.”
Littleton Samantha Ostlee had similar comments
“I have been playing basketball for seven years and it is a lot of fun,” she said. “I like playing basketball because I like being with my friends. I also like it because I like running up and down the court.”
She said she also thinks it is fun to shoot the ball at the basket and likes it when her shot scored points for her team.
DeHaven has been a volunteer Special Olympics coach for more than 20 years.
“My dad was a Special Olympics volunteer for quite a few years. I used to help him and decided I wanted to volunteer too,” she said. “I really liked working with the kids and I guess that is why I am still a volunteer.”
She coaches basketball, track and field and bowling.
“Being a coach is fun. The focus of our events is about helping the athletes have fun and enjoy being with their friends,” DeHaven said. “The most fun for me is watching our athletes grow and progress and I just love being around our athletes. Because it is so much fun for me, I plan to stick with it.”
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