Unified Team Travels to College Championship
University of Louisville Squad Makes Second Trip to NIRSA Tournament
The University of Louisville Unified Basketball team joined 11 other Unified Collegiate teams from across the country April 12-14 to compete in the 2019 NIRSA National Basketball Championships hosted by Wichita State University in Wichita, Kan. This was the second straight year SOKY and the University of Louisville sent a team to the tournament which hosted its largest Unified field to date. The field was expanded from eight teams to twelve teams this year and the University of Louisville was one of only two schools able to return from the previous year. The National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) partners with Special Olympics to offer such Unified Sports opportunities at their events and this was the fourth year for Unified Sports at the National Basketball Tournament.
The team comprised of five University of Louisville students and five SOKY athletes was formed following the school’s second annual Unified basketball League which wrapped up in early March. Seven of the ten total students and SOKY athletes were returning players from the previous year.
The tournament offers tough competition for those that attend and the UofL team played pool round games against the University of Iowa and Texas A&M before falling to the eventual champion, Florida State University, in the playoff bracket. Between games Athletes and Partners were able to show off their skills in the 3-Point and Hot Shot competitions.
On the final night, the Unified teams attended a social gathering on Wichita State’s campus to enjoy food, bowling, various games and a t-shirt exchange.
The Unified Division is just one of five divisions at the National Tournament which also included Men’s and Women’s Club and Intramural teams. This gave Special Olympics athletes the opportunity to meet and visit with a wide range of students from throughout the country enhancing the inclusiveness of the entire event.
The opportunity to participate at such a high caliber event would not be possible without the continued partnership of our friends at the University of Louisville who welcome our athletes on campus each year for the joy and camaraderie of Unified Sports!