Unified Athletes Earn Weekly Honor
If you want to see how good high school sports can be, you owe it to yourselves to check out this week's iBerkshires.com/Southwestern Vermont Medical Center Athletes of the Week.
And when you do, go early and stay late.
Warmups and postgame are part of the experience when the county's two Unified Basketball teams compete.
Watching student-athletes and coaches from from Mount Greylock and Wahconah work together before a game is an inspiration in itself.
Watching them compete and be "brave in the attempt" will make your week.
Unified Sports, an initiative of Special Olympics, allows student-athletes with special needs to wear their school colors and train and compete alongside their fellow students of all abilities.
The program is active in more than 4,500 elementary, middle and high schools nationwide and came to the Berkshires a couple of years ago. Currently, three schools have Unified squads -- Wahconah and Hoosac Valley in track and field and Wahconah and Mount Greylock in basketball.
This week, the season tipped off with the Mounties earning their first ever win over Wahconah.
When the final horn sounded -- a few moments after the clock hit zero so that one of the athletes could take a few more tries at the basket because that's what matters more than scores and stats -- the game was capped, as usual, when all the students in the stands came onto the floor and formed a tunnell for players from both schools to run through.
"I'm just so proud of the players and how they support each other on the court," Mount Greylock coach Liza Barrett said. "Everybody gets it, and to be part of a school team playing in their school gym with the school logo on their T-shirt and to have the kids cheering them on ...
"I mean, that tunnell at the end of the game that the student fans made for both teams? It doesn't get beter than that."
Mount Greylock is scheduled to visit Wahconah this Thursday. The teams will meet again in Williamstown on Oct. 29.
The iBerkshires.com Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.