In general, sportsmanship refers to virtues such as fairness, self-control, courage, and persistence, and has been associated with interpersonal concepts of treating others and being treated fairly, maintaining self-control if dealing with others, and respect for both authority and opponents. Sportsmanship is also looked at as being the way one reacts to a sport/game/player.”
Lancaster athletes have long been recognized among coaches and officials in Section VI as being some of the most sportsmanlike teams in the area. We’d like to think the culture and climate of our schools has a hand in nurturing this type of behavior. This year, we’ve grown in this direction one step further.
Lancaster’s newest varsity sport is the first of its kind within the district. This is the first season for the Legends unified basketball team, a team that combines students with and without disabilities. Since the season opener the team is off to a great start.
Unified sports teams were developed by the Special Olympics organization to bring athletes with and without disabilities together on one team. The Legends unified basketball team has 21 students, of whom 13 have special needs. Unified basketball rules dictate that three special needs students must be on the court at all times. The hope of unified sports is that those with special needs will be able to participate in more school activities and that those without disabilities will better understand and be able to promote respect, dignity, and advocacy.
Lancaster’s unified team was the vision of a beloved member of our Lancaster family, special education aide, Mrs. Germaine Scofield. Germaine read an article about unified sports and brought the idea to Athletic Director, Brian Wild. Mr. Wild promised he would create a team, though he could not promise when. He was in the planning phases of the concept last summer when one of our students attended a unified sports game to support a neighbor and called Mr. Wild to ask him to bring a unified team to Lancaster. Mr. Wild and Mr. Bernie Mosher, a special education teacher, attended a local conference about unified sports, in order to develop the concept. They then worked with two students to bring the team to Lancaster.
The program involves game and skill/practice components. This allows students who are physically unable to play in a game, or have aged out of eligibility to participate in varsity sports, to still participate in the team.
Even though they are the newest of Lancaster’s sports teams, the players are already getting a spirited reception. Before the home opener, as a warm up, the team and coaches took a walk around Lancaster High School. Onlookers witnessed the most incredible scene as they paraded around the school grounds. As they passed every other team out on the fields practicing or playing in a game, that team stopped their activity to cheer on the unified basketball team as they passed. The unified basketball team then in turn cheered each of the teams on the fields. This support from one team to another is one of the many things that makes us so proud of our students and our community.
Prior to the home opening tip-off the Unified Legends dedicated their game to Mrs. Scofield, who passed away last summer. Each player also has the initials ‘GS’ in a sunflower shaped patch on their jerseys, to honor Germaine.
Another touching moment came at the end of the game, after Lancaster claimed victory; as the alma mater played, the whole team formed a line, put their arms over each other’s shoulders, and swayed to the song, beaming with pride.
One of the best things about the team is the camaraderie that is forming among the students. Many of the students on the team are in self-contained classrooms and have not had many opportunities to get to know other students in such a large school. The basketball team has changed that. There is a true sense of community building as more and more students learn about the team and get to know the players.
The entire Lancaster community has been so supportive of the team. Teachers have baked cookies for the team; others have donated for pre-game meals. Mr. Jayson Jaskier has done a wonderful job coaching, and there are countless other teachers and staff who help with a variety of tasks.
Each game, the crowd grows as word spreads. The games are an uplifting experience, and we hope each one of you has the chance to share in this newest component of what makes Lancaster the great school district that it is.
One of only four in the nation