Basketball Teams From Across the State Competed at Not One, but Two State Basketball Tournaments
It was all about the hoops this past weekend at the 2019 State Basketball Tournament hosted by Illinois State University and Illinois Wesleyan University. The tournament ran from Friday, March 15 to Sunday, March 17. Three locations, 1,650 athletes, and 520 coaches made up the 3-day event. The weekend was filled with hard work, determination, and some nail-biting games!
There was a total of 140 teams from around the State of Illinois. The teams were broken up under Junior Divisions, High School Divisions, Female Divisions and Senior Male Divisions, and Individual Skills.
After working hard on the court, athletes enjoyed dancing, laser tag, and the lighting of the torch on Saturday night. Everyone busted a move and athletes proudly showed off their medals and awards.
Over at the Peoria Civic Center, March Madness was underway. The March Madness Experience took over with fun, interactive games, exhibits and just a good time. Eight teams competed on Friday, March 15 and Saturday, March 16, for the IHSA Unified Basketball
3-time State Champions, Homewood-Flossmoor High School
Championship title. In Division 1- Homewood-Flossmoor beat Andrews in what was possibly the most exciting game of the weekend, with a final score of 60-57. David Dore, Special Education teacher and coach said this is a game to remember! “This team was comprised mostly of seniors who will graduate at the end of this year. We are losing nine players who helped start this program. To see them go out on top and play some of the best basketball I have seen from them is hard to put into words. Everyone on this team will leave HF with memories and friendships that will last a lifetime”. This makes Homewood-Flossmoor 3-time state champions! Limestone and Peotone came in third and fourth place, respectively. In Division 2- Vernon Hills beat Edwardsville, with Stevenson and LaSalle Peru coming in third and fourth place.
A big thank you to Homewood-Flossmoor High School Viking TV (VTV), who broadcasted the two IHSA Unified Basketball State Championships. VTV was on site with their students for the weekend and streamed the two championship games live, this past Saturday. They were on the courts from tip-off through awards of both games, and it was great to see the athletes showcased.
To View pictures from the 2019 State Basketball Tournament: Click Here
Sarah King, Michele Dwyer and Sophia Vasilakopoulus in front of the Capitol Building, Washington D.C.
Special Olympics Illinois athletes Sophia Vasilakopoulos, Sarah King, and Courtney Kruger Made a Case of Impact and Need for Critical Funding on Capitol Hill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Special Olympics athletes Sophia Vasilakopoulos, Courtney Kruger and peer partner Sarah King joined advocates from across the United States and converged on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. On February 12th, the three joined more than 250 delegates representing 44 states and the District of Columbia for Special Olympics’ 17th annual Capitol Hill Day.
Sophia, Sarah, Courtney participated in eight face-to-face meetings with Members of Congress, inviting their elected officials to partner with them to support Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® and about the need to end health care and education disparities and discrimination against roughly 1% of the US population with intellectual disabilities.
Sophia and Sarah expressed the impact that Special Olympics Unified Champion schools has had on them and Maine South High School as a whole. Maine South High School is one of the 268 Unified schools in Illinois. The students shared how they foster a community of inclusion for all through unified activities and other opportunities their club provides. Maine South High school offers Special Olympics Unified sport teams, an inclusion club (Hawk Pals), a unified theater communications class, a program that pairs students for natural social exchanges during the passing periods and a Respect Week campaign that encourages the entire school to pledge to choose to include all individuals. All of our school activities are supported by the school through placement in the yearbook, involvement in the school assemblies and send off parades when our athletes make it to state. Courtney shared the impact of the Special Olympics health programs.
U.S. Representative, Mike Bost, from Illinois’ 12th Congressional District with SOILL Delegation and NFL Veteran, Dale Moss
“No one can better articulate a vision for a more inclusive America or demonstrate how a nation can unite as one than the athletes and Unified partners of Special Olympics,” said Tim Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics. Shriver added, “Our athletes and youth leaders will lead us in the Inclusion Revolution, our collective fight to end discrimination for people with intellectual disabilities. But we can’t do it alone. We need governmental support to preserve laws guaranteeing the rights and full participation and integration of people with intellectual disabilities into our society.”
In more than 6,000 Unified Champion Schools across the country, Special Olympics has trained youth leaders and educators to create inclusive schools. Students with and without Intellectual Disabilities are playing and competing together through Special Olympics Unified Sports. These experiences help increase acceptance of all abilities in classrooms and are reducing stigma and bullying.
Maine South High school is proud to be able to share and promote the Special Olympic mission.
Seun Adigun Spends the Day with Special Olympics Illinois Athletes
On Monday, February 18, Seun Adigun – Double Olympian- came back home to Chicago to spend the day with the athletes of Special Olympics Illinois.
Seun’s career as an Olympic athlete has been nothing short of incredible. She represented Team Nigeria in 100m hurdles at the London 2012 Olympic Games and has competed all over the African continent. She later took on a new endeavor breaking into winter sports.
In 2016, she founded the Nigerian bobsled team. Adigun is also the first African Bobsled driver to lead a team from Nigeria to the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Through her love of sport, she broke down barriers.
Seun is a Global Ambassador for Special Olympics. As she leads the way to inclusion through sports, Adigun has been able to create opportunities, foster inclusivity, and encourage & motivate Special Olympics athletes around the world to push past any obstacle they may face.
Being a Chicago native, Seun’s return was particularly special.
She chose to spend her first day home with the fellow champions – the athletes of Special Olympics Illinois.
“Seun has embarked on a journey that would surpass many. Her accomplishments of not only competing in the 2012 Olympic Games, but also helping to cultivate the inaugural Nigerian bobsled team and competing last year are absolutely amazing, said Dani Chitwood, the Assistant Director of Region D for Special Olympics Illinois.
“She defied her critics and achieved greatness. It parallels the efforts of our athletes which makes her story so important.”
She visited a bowling qualifier for Search Inc., where Seun spent time cheering on the athletes as they worked to qualify for their regional competition.
Search is a community-based nonprofit whose programs serve more than 600 people and their families annually at locations stretching from the southwest side of Chicago to the northern suburbs of Waukegan and Mount Prospect.
Later that day, Seun toured Misericordia where even more Special Olympics Illinois athletes welcomed her. Misericordia serves over 600 children & adults with intellectual & developmental disabilities from diverse racial, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds.
There she was able to see the athletes in action! From powerlifting to rhythmic gymnastics practice she saw it all.
“It meant so much to be able to share time and space with the Special Olympics Illinois athletes I met on my trip to Chicago,” said Seun Adigun. “I felt the joy and determination of each person as they participated in their respective activities. Most importantly, I felt genuine love and appreciation from them when I came to show my support. It was truly an incredible feeling.”
Like Seun Adigun, Special Olympics athletes break barriers every day, they define the impossible.
UNSUNG HERO: Bill Asbury
Bill Asbury, Special Olympics Illinois volunteer, Board Member, and father of an athlete, was presented an unsung hero award for his long-time dedication and passion for Special Olympics Illinois.
What once started as a hobby, has now become a successful Special Olympics Illinois fundraiser.
January marked the 10th Anniversary for the 2019 Girls Indoor Softball Tournament at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds. This year, twenty-eight traveling softball teams competed in this tournament.
The tournament allowed girls ages 12 to 16 from multiple states to compete for a trophy with all efforts benefiting Special Olympics Illinois.
“Special Olympics has had such a positive impact on my daughter, Brenna’s life. I was inspired to help raise money for other Special Olympic athletes to compete in the sports they love,” said Bill.
For the first time ever Bill put together an exhibition Unified softball game. Special Olympics athletes shared the field with peer partners from the Elverado and Du Quoin Middle School softball teams. In the tournament, 58 Special Olympics Illinois athletes participated in various parts of the three-day event.
“The athletes love him and know him and want to be here,” added Kim Talley- Region K Co-Director.
The softball tournament is not the only fundraiser Bill takes part in, he also holds a baseball tournament, a polar plunge, and a duck derby dash. Nevertheless, Bill could not have imagined how much impact his tournament and the other fundraising efforts would have on some many others.
Bill has raised over $700,000 to support the organization and the athletes. In Bill’s eyes, the real unsung heroes are the athletes.