Unified basketball builds relationships, teamwork

Nov 16, 2017

For one basketball team, winning a match isn’t as important as the connections and community the sport provides.

That’s Dartmouth High School’s unified basketball team, one of several teams in the unified sports program. On November 15, the team hosted and competed in the Unified Basketball Jamboree, facing off against Seekonk and Plymouth North for the last tournament of the unified basketball season.

Unified athletics teams are made up of high school students and special needs students at Dartmouth High. The program began three years ago at the high school, and has increased in popularity since then.

At the tournament, Dartmouth High lost its first game to Seekonk 30-29, but picked up a 28-10 win over Plymouth North. Every one of the eight teams that participated in the tournament received T-shirts and ribbons at the conclusion of the tournament.

For program coach John Breault, the results represent several weeks of improvement, although he noted the real benefits aren’t necessarily tied to winning.

“The team got better every week, it’s exactly what you’d want,” Breault said.

Instead, it’s all about the connections teammates of all skill levels build throughout the season both on and off the court.

“There’s so much more kids can learn here,” Breault said. “The relationships these kids build transcends winning or losing.”

Some students who join the school’s unified athletics programs are already seasoned sports veterans. Juniors Charlie Gamache and Will Cote heard about the program through their hockey coach, Mike Cappello, who also helps run the unified athletics program.

“It’s just about building relationships with the students here,” Gamache said. “It’s really unique.”

Others, like senior Noah Filipe, wanted to continue working with the special needs students at Dartmouth High. He originally joined the school’s life partners program, which teams students up with special needs students for a semester. He signed on to the team afterwards.

“I feel like we as a school should be making these events more well-known,” Filipe said, adding that many of the basketball players on the team are quite talented.

In addition to basketball, the unified athletics program also has a track and field team, and a bowling team.