Unified Basketball bounces back after COVID delays second season

Goshen’s Unified Basketball team launched in 2019 and its first season was an astounding success, united students with a range of intellectual abilities who share a common love – basketball.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic postponed their second season in 2020, but according to Coach Eric Harris, the team is back and embracing the season together.

“On the heels of a pandemic, it’s been a joy to watch these remarkable student-athletes smiling and laughing while they compete in an environment that emphasizes understanding and inclusivity,” Harris said.

Unified Basketball combines students with and without intellectual disabilities to compete against unified teams from other local districts, including Middletown, Monroe-Woodbury, Newburgh, Warwick and Valley Central. The purpose is to build empathy and unity among students of all abilities.

Harris sites a moment where he overheard two team members having a conversation about sports while traveling home from an away game. “Normally, these two students might not have an opportunity to share a conversation, yet the unified team brought them together and proved we all have things in common, no matter your ability.”

Unified basketball is a program offered through a partnership between the New York State Public High School Athletic Association and Special Olympics New York, and is recognized by Section IX.

Teens wearing masks and matching red shirts in the gymnasium