PHOTOS: Harnessing diverse abilities on the court at the B.C. Games

PHOTOS: Harnessing diverse abilities on the court at the B.C. Games

Basketball is one of two Special Olympics events at the B.C. Winter Games in Kamloops

  • Feb. 25, 2018 10:00 a.m.

–– Kamloops This Week

Troy Schattenkirk lined up for a free throw, a shot he has practised again and again. He focused on the hoop, bounced the ball — and missed, with the ball ending up in an opponent’s hands.

It wasn’t over for Schattenkirk, however, who quickly turned the play back in his favour, stealing the ball and sinking a layup that sent fans into a frenzy at Pacific Way elementary.

“Our coach (Jordynn Denness) called a timeout and she said, ‘The next time you come out, get into your positions and go hard.’ Schattenkirk said. “She said, ‘Don’t be scared to get on your checks and steal the ball.’ So that’s what I did. That’s what happened.”

The 28-year-old Penticton winger with autism scored 20 points to secure a 43-19 win for the Thompson-Okanagan Special Olympics basketball team during a quarter-final game against Fraser Valley on Saturday morning.

“This is my first time watching a basketball game and I was like, ‘Oh, I might have to come more often,” said Heather Semchuk, who was cheering on son Kent Plettl from Kamloops.

Assistant coach Patrick Wilson attributed the team’s win to a full-court press.

“We feel good about our performance in this game,” he said.

While some players could give the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack a run for their money, others, like 18-year-old Ethan Sun, aren’t in it to win.

“We want to form as a group and work together,” Sun told KTW.

Wilson coaches in Kelowna and only just met half of his newly formed team. Thompson-Okanagan athletes were brought together from Penticton, Kelowna and Kamloops for the BC Winter Games, selected by their respective Special Olympics coaches to represent the region. Six regional teams are competing.

“Special Olympics basketball is really just starting to get going in the Okanagan region over the last three to five years,” Wilson said.

One of two Special Olympics events at the BC Winter Games, basketball rules have been altered to suit the needs of those with diverse abilities. The game has been shortened and you won’t find a 30-second shot clock counting down above the court. There’s no rule on subbing and referees consider the player when making a call for minor infractions like double-dribbling or travelling.

Give athletes with diverse abilities the opportunity to prosper and they do, Wilson said.

“We work to play with their strengths and we work around their disabilities, but at the same time we give them the opportunity to shine,” he said. “That enables and empowers them.”

But it doesn’t always run 100 per cent smoothly.

During the game between Thompson-Okanagan and Fraser Valley, a call was made by a volunteer Kamloops referee against a Fraser Valley player who took too long to toss the ball into play. She was visibly shaken from the call after the offiicial cited the five-second rule.

“There’s no five-second rule,” came shouts from the sidelines.

The referee reversed his call, but it was too late for the player, who made her way off the court and would not return to the game for a full quarter. When she did return to the sidelines, she sat on the bench and got her shoulders rubbed before returning to the hardcourt.

“Any time you have Special Olympics, you have to be flexible in regards to understanding if they [athletes with diverse abilities] can get on the court,” said Leah Briault, Special Olympic basketball chair for the BC Winter Games.

Supports are in place at Pacific Way. There’s a designated quiet room for athletes and therapy dogs are on hand — fluffballs that could be seen roaming the school hallways when not needed by athletes. Specialty personnel include B.C. Children’s Hospital nurses and physiotherapists. Paramedics have also been on site.

The supports are enough to ease the minds of parents Laura and Dave Hender from Quesnel, whose 14-year-old son Matthew, who has autism, joined his first sports team in October. He is in Kamloops as part of the Caribou-North East team.

Communication with the coach has brought additional piece of mind for the parents as they manage the separation.

“The whole thing. Having to come on the bus, stay at a school, eat meals with other people. We were freaking out,” Laura told KTW. “But he’s doing great. He’s wearing a uniform, which bothers him … We’ve just noticed his confidence. We’re blown away by how independent he is this weekend. It’s pretty cool.”

Briault coaches the Kamloops Special Olympics basketball team and cancelled Saturday’s practice due to the Games, telling her players to instead come and watch their three teammates who made the Thompson-Okanagan squad. Most of the team was in the stands cheering on the three players from Kamloops — Plettl, Josh Trudell and Aaron Lansdowne.

“It was awesome,” Lansdowne said. “We are family.”

Many of the athletes have been playing multiple sports together for years, either on a team or competing against one another. It has built an inclusive community among athletes with diverse abilities in Kamloops, the Thompson-Okanagan and British Columbia, which was evident when a Fraser Valley player was bumped and fell during the game.

Kamloops’ Plettl reached down to his opponent, calling the player by name, and offered a hand.

“It’s team sportsmanship,” Plettl said.

The Thompson-Okanagan squad would not go on to win its afternoon contest against Vancouver Coastal.

“Valiant effort from our team against a very strongly build team,” Wilson said. “We were proud of them.”

The Special Olympics basketball final will be played on Sunday at 10 a.m. Pacific Way elementary. The Thompson-Okanagan squad will play in the bronze-medal game at 8:30 a.m. Medal presentations will take place at 11:30 a.m.

Did you know?

Female and male athletes ages 14 to 35 with diverse abilities share the court for Special Olympics basketball during the BC Winter Games.

The Games also feature Special Olympics figure skating.

Paralympic sports differ from Special Olympics in that Paralympic athletes have only physical disabilities, not intellectual ones.

Across the province, 4,600 athletes are registered with Special Olympics B.C., 72 per cent of whom are ages 19 to 59. Youth programs can take in kid as young as two years of age.

BC Games

 

PHOTOS: Harnessing diverse abilities on the court at the B.C. Games

PHOTOS: Harnessing diverse abilities on the court at the B.C. Games

PHOTOS: Harnessing diverse abilities on the court at the B.C. Games

PHOTOS: Harnessing diverse abilities on the court at the B.C. Games

PHOTOS: Harnessing diverse abilities on the court at the B.C. Games

PHOTOS: Harnessing diverse abilities on the court at the B.C. Games

Just Posted

2021’s Westside Daze will be a mix of online and safe in-person events. (Westside Daze)
Westside Daze is back with a variety of safe events online and in-person

Last year’s Westside July celebrations were cancelled due to the pandemic

(Dave Ogilvie photo)
One injured after being pinned by fallen forklift near Peachland

West Kelowna emergency crews responded to reports of a person stuck under a forklift

(Big White Ski Resort/Contributed)
Big White’s big clean-up: Large turnout for post-melt mountain tidy

More than 165 people showed up to help gather the litter left behind from the winter season

Mounties cover a burgundy truck with a tent at Buckerfields in West Kelowna on Monday, June 14. The RCMP is investigating after a woman’s body was found inside the truck. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)
West Kelowna RCMP investigating suspicious death after body found in truck

Police responded to a truck parked out front of a Main Street business where the body was found

(Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)
Delays expected on Lakeshore Road this week

Northbound traffic on Lakeshore between Richter and Barrera will be detoured for paving

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop live horse export

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Penticton Overdose Prevention Society co-founders Desiree Franz, Shane Surowski and Stephanie Lines have created the city’s first unsanctioned public overdose prevention site using an old wine-tour bus. The site began operations in June 2021. (Desiree Franz/Facebook)
Volunteers launch Penticton’s first public supervised injection site

2021 is on pace to be the deadliest year for overdoses in Penticton on record

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

Jane Linden
KCR: Volunteering keeps you active

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

This goose family went for a leisurely stroll down Vernon’s Main Street Saturday, April 25. (Dave Deshane photo)
Controversial Vernon goose cull won’t fly this year

Necessary permit procedures held up at a federal level

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Most Read