This past school year, the William Floyd School District in collaboration with the Special Olympics of New York, held its fifth season of unified basketball, a program that provides students with special needs the opportunity to participate in a team sport setting. Under the leadership of coaches Rob Hodgson, Nicole Alesi and Mark Vales, the Colonials finished their season with four wins and a lot of great memories.

“Unified sports promote social inclusion for everyone on the team,” said Coach Alesi, who helped spearhead the program five years ago. “This is a great way to learn from one another and make friendships with peers that they might not have met in the hallways. Having the opportunity to participate in unified sports allows students to learn about acceptance, friendships and commitment.”

According to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, participation in unified sports is rooted in the principle of meaningful involvement which ensures that each player is given an opportunity to contribute to the success of the team through their unique skills. Inclusive activity is among the most conducive ways to break down stereotypes and foster relationships. Students train together, play together, build camaraderie and make memories that last a lifetime.

In addition to the students having fun and building relationships, Coach Alesi recalls a special moment earlier in the season involving Andrew Saravia, a Floyd Academy student, who reached out to her looking for volunteer and career opportunities in the special education field, post-graduation. As a result, Andrew joined the team’s coaching staff and was an integral part in assisting the student-athletes both on and off the court. “Having Andrew reach out and want to get more involved was exciting," said Coach Alesi. "Being a part of a program that could influence someone's career choice and seeing this happen is rewarding as a coach.”

Congratulations to the following Colonials on a great season: Nick Astacio, Mathew Austin, Tom Castro, John Gallagher, Jeffrey Harris, Matthew Hernandez, Paul Jackson, Kayla Klein, Zachary Luhrs, Sarah Maisano, Tommy Montalbano, Nick Nappi, Brianna O’Connor, Ryan O’Connor, Mekhi Peacock, Jelani Reynolds, Sumera Saeed, Dominick Scioli, Shawn Conroy, Kayshaun Glover, Ronald Love, Joe Mazzarella, Javier Moore and Andrew Saravia.

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WFHS Unified Basketball 2021

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