Louisville athletes and UofL Students Reach Championship Game in First Trip to National Unified Event
Last month, the University of Louisville and Special Olympics Kentucky took on seven other Colleges and Universities from across the United States and from Canada in our state’s first-ever trip to the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) National UNIFIED Basketball Championship. The event was hosted April 20-22 by Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.
The team comprised of University of Louisville students and Special Olympics Kentucky athletes came together after the ESPN sponsored Unified Basketball League that was hosted at UofL in February. Special Olympics athletes making the trip included athletes Marcus Anderson, Christopher Ludwick, Corey Pittsenberger, Evan Reed and Connor Wathen; and Unified partners Dakota Graue, John Hower, Jeremy Mercer and Eric Piernas.
They started competition on Friday evening with pool play against Ohio State University where we came up just short 44-42. Saturday, Louisville came back to play the University of Florida and pulled out a win 50-45.
Tournament brackets were announced Saturday afternoon. Louisville first played a great team from the University of Toledo which was once again a complete nail biter. Just two points separated the teams at half time. Louisville came back to win the game with athlete Chris Ludwick having ice in his veins, sealing the 46-43 win with two free throws 46-43. This win put the team into the semi-finals on Sunday morning.
The level of competition showed through once again facing Duke where the team showed great poise to pull out the win to advance to finals against the University of Toronto. The game started a little rocky with tough defense by both sides and things just not wanting to fall in Louisvillle’s favor resulting in a 20-12 halftime deficit. The guys didn’t get frustrated and came back to be to lead 35-34 with less than a minute to go. Toronto roared back though, to claim the championship 45-35. The full game can we watched on the NIRSA YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TociAHH-Y-c&sns=tw
The weekend was an experience that will never be forgotten by anyone because of friendships that were formed and memories made. At the end of each game it didn’t matter what side of the scores table you were on or the final score. It was the pure joys of competition and the sport of basketball that showed through that Living Unified to Play Unified is what it is all about!