Extra Hyped

School community celebrates Sanctity of Life Month by packing the Field House for the Special Friends Basketball Game.

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photo by Jeremy Miller

Referee Junior Beck Atkins celebrates with the MVP just after the final buzzer of the Special Friends Basketball Game.

Energy filled the standing-room-only Field House crowd. Everyone in the room instantly transformed into a cheerleader. This night, there would be only winners as the players ran through the inflatable tunnel and the teams took the court for the Special Friends Basketball Game.

For the third year in a row, the school celebrated Sanctity of Life month by inviting young people from the special needs community to join members of the Middle School boys basketball teams for a big-time game, complete with a packed house of fans, cheerleaders, announcers and halftime entertainment.

With intensity, the players raced up and down the court shooting baskets. Every shot made caused the fans to go wild. This brought smiles and fist pumps from the players.

“It was fun to see how happy the kids were. Everyone enjoyed watching the kids’ love for the game,” said Seventh grade player Holden Burchard.

The Middle School cheerleaders also welcomed special friends to join them, and members of the Boys Varsity Basketball team refereed the game and encouraged the boys.

Referee Junior Matthew Escheik said, “I loved having the opportunity to be a ref and to be on the court with all of the kids. Just the energy and the smiles on their faces are the best things to see. Their joy is unique, and I hope I get to help out again. ”

Even though the refs and crowd were there to touch the lives of the special needs community, they were the ones who truly left a lasting impression. The joy and love they demonstrated served as a model for others to learn from.

Referee Junior Beck Atkins said, “It was one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever had. Being able to pass on my love for the game to kids that look up to me is something I won’t forget.”

One player shot 3-pointers like a pro, earning the MVP award. He leaped for joy after each point he scored. He showcased his basketball skills as he dribbled the ball down the court and under his legs.

Middle School Basketball Coach Eric Leininger said, “The Special Friends game is by far the best game of the year. The atmosphere is unlike any other basketball game any team plays at PCA. The opportunity to be a part of celebrating the sanctity of life and the game of basketball with the Miracle League athletes is unreal. I already can’t wait for the Special Friends 2018 game.”

The back-and-forth game ended in a tie, and afterward, the refs and students formed a circle around the players and cheered.

Matthew said, “Dancing in a circle was so fun especially when you have friends coming together to help with the special needs game. We were telling them to hit that dab and what not. It just got extra hyped.”

Seventh grade player Tyler Chambers said, “It was cool to see how much they enjoyed it, because they don’t usually get to play basketball like this.”