I will always be a Unified Oaker. “Choose to include” is a motto I will always live for the rest of my life as I will always choose to include others no matter if they have a disability or not, everyone should always be included to do anything and everything. Nobody should ever be left out in anything; it isn’t the right thing to do at all. It doesn’t matter who they are.
Playing Unified Sports Has Made Me a Better Person
BY ERIC GONCALVES
I have been asked many times, “Why did you decide to play for Unified basketball and volleyball? Why didn’t you try out for JV or Varsity?” My answer to that question is pretty simple. I decided to play for these teams because not only do I love basketball but I wanted help the Unified athletes who want to play.
My love for basketball started when I was young watching the NBA Finals series between the Celtics and Lakers, watching Kobe Bryant work his magic, and watching the Celtics’ dominant squad with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen. Watching those games is what made me love basketball. Before I played for unified teams, I always played just for fun with family and friends, which I still do, but when I first signed up for a team, not only was it good for me because of how much fun I had but I got so much advice which has helped my basketball skills tremendously.
Playing for Coventry Basketball teams has helped me become not only a better player, but it has helped me become a good teammate to have. I give advice to players who play differently than me, which is another reason why I decided to play for the Unified teams. I can help the athletes and become a good teammate for them in the best way possible. I took a break from Coventry Basketball when I traveled around the world, but I helped my friends in Coventry’s summer league team by coaching, I took what I knew and attempted to coach. The team won two games before their coach came back from being sick. After coaching those two games, I decided to sign up for Coventry basketball again.
Not only am I playing Coventry Basketball but I am currently on the Unified Volleyball team which started this year. I never really played volleyball until playing for this team. I feel like I have been getting better at volleyball as the season is progressing. The Unified program has helped me not only to become a more compassionate person, but it has helped me become a better teammate and role model for the athletes on the team. It is moments such as seeing one of the athletes named Cameron, who is blind in one eye, make a shot during the basketball games he would have the biggest smile on his face. Special moments like that which inspire me to continue to play for the Unified basketball team.
I can’t thank all of the partners, athletes, and coaches enough for not only making my Unified experience an amazing experience, but I wanted to thank them for giving me the opportunity to play for these teams. I wish I could have played for the basketball team longer, but I am grateful for the two years it will be upon graduation playing for this team. The fact of playing for these teams and participating in this amazing program is an experience, something that will never be forgotten.
I will always be a Unified Oaker. “Choose to include” is a motto I will always live for the rest of my life as I will always choose to include others no matter if they have a disability or not, everyone should always be included to do anything and everything. Nobody should ever be left out in anything; it isn’t the right thing to do at all. It doesn’t matter who they are. CHS has a goal of trying to establish not just an all Unified school, but an entire Unified town district. The goal seems like a longshot but the progress of this goal continues to skyrocket higher and higher.