University of Louisville intramural teams sported some special athletes this past school year – athletes from Special Olympics Kentucky. UofL is the first school in Kentucky to host Unified Basketball which features teams made up of both UofL students and athletes with intellectual disabilities. UofL’s assistant director of intramurals, Justin Peterson, thought it would be a good way to expand the athletic experience for students while breaking down barriers with people with disabilities.
“It brings a new level of confidence to our athletes” said Justin Harville, director of program services at Special Olympics Kentucky. “It brings opportunity for a new community to be formed for them to feel part of the UofL campus.”
The top two teams in the UofL intramural league combined to form a nine-person team of Special Olympians and UofL students, which participated in the national intramural basketball championships at The Ohio State University. UofL’s team finished second out of eight squads, beaten by a team from Toronto in the championship game.
“A lot of them (Special Olympians) are better players than I will ever be,” said John Hower, a UofL senior and member of UofL’s Unified team. “It’s also allowed me to make some new friends on campus … I really wish we had this program earlier in my college career.”