SCARBOROUGH — This is the first year that Scarborough High School has a Unified Basketball team, and members of the school district are excited for the opportunity this brings.

The unified sport is offered through Maine Principals’ Association and Special Olympics Maine, according to the organization’s website.

“Unified Basketball partners students with developmental disabilities (Unified Student Athlete) with students without developmental disabilities (Unified Student Partners) to train, compete, and represent their school,” says the MPA’s website. “Unified Sports impacts all kinds of students and helps promote physical activity, teamwork, sportsmanship, and social inclusion.”

The first game was against Bonny Eagle on Friday, Jan. 24 in the Alumni Gym at Scarborough High School. The next four games will also be in Scarborough. Those interested can view dates and times here.

The team is coached by Albert McCormac and Brook Wadsen.

Stephanie Leonhartt, occupational therapist at Scarborough Middle School and the school’s Unified Club adviser, said that unified basketball has been growing over the past few years.

“Mike LeGage, the Athletic Director, put the program into the budget this year and got the ball rolling,” she said. “Merdith Verrill is the head of Bonny Eagle Special Olympics but a resident of Scarborough and a middle school parent. She has been instrumental in trying to get a team in Scarborough.”

According to the MPA’s website, “The focus of MPA Unified Sports is competition (not simply participation). The opportunity to compete in sports teaches many life lessons: to work as a team, to follow rules and to be committed. Through sports we can find shared interests that allow friendships to form. Through MPA/Special Olympics Unified Sports program we have an opportunity to make real positive changes in the lives of students with and without disabilities.”

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