Delaware shared in a bit of its own March Madness on Saturday at UD’s Bob Carpenter Center, where 300 athletes hit the hardwood.
Special Olympics Delaware’s annual basketball tournament featured 34 teams of athletes from across the state and included Unified teams — players with and without disabilities — and traditional teams — all Special Olympics athletes.
“This was a wonderful opportunity for our athletes to showcase their ability on the state’s premier basketball stage,” said Jon Buzby with Special Olympics Delaware.
More than 150 volunteers, including referees, scorers, time keepers and general volunteers, helped make the day possible. In fact, high school officials from International Association of Approved Basketball Officials (IAABO) Board 11 refereed the games.
“Basketball is one of our most popular sports,” said Gary Cimaglia, senior director of sports for Special Olympics. “With March Madness in full swing it was wonderful for our athletes to each have their own shining moment, and we couldn’t have done it without the help of our enthusiastic volunteers.”
This was the first time that the Special Olympics basketball tournament was held in one day. “We felt like this new format was a huge success. It gave every team the chance to see all off the other teams to play and served as a great opportunity for many of our Special Olympics citizens to catch up with each other as friends,” said Buzby.
The philosophy of any Special Olympics event is that all teams or athletes should have an equal chance to win at the beginning of the competition. So athletes were placed in appropriate divisions based on ability levels, which also meant there were more medals and ribbons to go around.
Congratulations to all Special Olympics athletes and to this year’s Basketball Tournament winners!