Guilford High School hosted a basketball game Friday dedicated to inclusion and celebrating those with disabilities.
“It’s loud and it’s fun and there’s a lot of energy, and our kids really look forward to it and they love when the other kids come to support us,” said Tabitha Thomas, coach of the Ogle County All-Stars.
Parents, teachers, and fellow students gathered at Guilford’s gymnasium to cheer on the Vikings and the All-Stars.
Both teams consisted of Special Education students. Each and every one of them were excited to play.
“It’s amazing, just coming out here and having fun,” said Brandon Williams, a senior at Guilford. “That’s all that matters, because it’s one of my passions, is to play basketball and just enjoy the game.”
Players compete in eight games per season and every year comes with its own challenges.
“Each year is a new adventure,” said Guilford’s Special Education Teacher and Special Olympics Coach Megan Guthrie. “We have different kids joining us each year. So, some years are growing years. Some years, we go down to State for the Special Olympics. We never know how the year’s gonna turn out, but it’s always fun.”
Friday’s game was about more than just a win or a loss: it was about team unity and demonstrating that every person matters.
“It embodies inclusion and it shows that Guilford really includes all individuals within the school, and that everyone matters here,” Guthrie said.
With a roaring crowd behind them, the players on the court couldn’t help but smile.
“It’s great to see their faces, how they light up. They’re excited to have their peers here, cheering them on. Parents come, different family members and friends, and they just really, they feel like they’re the stars of the school today,” Guthrie said.
The Vikings scored over 40 points, including some 3-pointers. The All-Stars did well with a solid 24 points.