Uniting Sehome, One Basket at a Time

Linnea DeVange and Cicely Bergsma

With the winter sports season in full throttle, The Rising Tide gathered information on an up-and-coming team: Unified basketball. Unified Sports is a nation-wide inclusive program that unites individuals with and without

Sehome’s unified team huddles together during a timeout.

intellectual disabilities through teamwork and athletics. This collaboration promotes friendship and understanding.

When asked why he joined the Unified Basketball team, team captain Jackson Perkins (12) said, “I became friends with Josué through being in a unified PE class for the last two years. Unified basketball became a cool way to extend that friendship outside the classroom.”

This season marks the second year that Lillian Gruman (12) has been in the program. “I joined because I really like basketball but I didn’t want to play on the Sehome team,” Gruman said. “Also, I wanted to get to know some of the special education students better and it sounded like a really fun and laid-back opportunity.”

Just like any sport, Unified Basketball needs an enthusiastic, devoted coach. This year, that coach will be Mr. Schelle. Schelle is relatively new to the Unified basketball program, however, he has spent previous years coaching Sehome’s now-extinct Unified Bowling team. “Being the Unified bowling coach, I was a natural choice and I love basketball. It’s actually one of my favorite sports and Unified Basketball is very sweet,” Schelle said. Schelle was originally encouraged to begin participating in the world of Sehome’s Unified Sports by a fellow teacher, Mr. Wissing (Unified Soccer coach). “Mr. Wissing has been involved with Unified Sports for a while and he suggested I should do Unified

Players get ready to compete for a rebound.

Bowling, then I moved on to Unified Basketball.” This will be Schelle’s fourth year as coach for Sehome’s Unified basketball team and he’s already enjoying the season. “Some special needs students weren’t sure they wanted to play, but they stayed with the team and that’s been very uplifting,” Schelle said. “That’s my main highlight. Our first game is coming up… then I’ll have more highlights.”

The 2019-2020 Unified basketball season has been unique for a number of reasons. For starters, the team has a larger number of partners (individuals without intellectual disabilities) than ever before. One of the players, David DeRoy (12), has a particular affinity for this sport. “We can get exercise and run while bouncing the ball, and shooting some hoops,” said DeRoy. The team is large, composed of two squads and about 20 players. Additionally, the Glow Dance will be following a Unified basketball game for the first time in history. Any Sehome student planning on attending the Glow Dance should first watch the Unified game to show their school spirit. “It’s just like any other Sehome sport,” Perkins said. “We don’t have to be good at it to have tremendous spirit. Everyone should come out to the games and cheer on your Sehome Mariner peers”.

Sehome staff, students, and families: please continue to show your support for the Unified Sports program by attending games. Students: contact Mr. Wissing or Schelle to express your interest in joining Unified Sports. Go Mariners!