The Huntington High School Unified Basketball team will take the court for the first time this spring after the Blue Devils joined the relatively new program sanctioned by the New York State Public High School Assn. and Section XI.
Unified Basketball is a varsity sport that features Special Olympians paired with general education students who serve as teammates and assistants on the co-ed rosters.
The Huntington team will be coached by J. Taylor Finley Middle School physical education teacher Jordan Ioviero, who just completed his first season as the high school varsity boys’ basketball team’s head coach. Special Education Chair Linda Costello-Roth is assisting with the squad.
The Blue Devil team is still in the development stage, but the schedule is set. Home games will be played in Louis D. Giani Gymnasium at the high school.
“We are excited to be sponsoring a Unified Basketball team for the first time this season,” said Georgia D. McCarthy, district director of athletics. “This is going to be a great experience for everyone involved and a lot of fun.”
Participation in the Unified Sports program is “rooted in the principle of meaningful involvement which ensures that every player is given an opportunity to contribute to the success of his or her team through their unique skills,” according to NYSPHSAA. “Inclusive activity is among the most conducive ways to break down stereotypes and foster relationships.”
The Special Olympians on the team will take leadership roles. The athletic department is working to get the entire high school involved to support the new Blue Devil team.
The team will play a six game regular season schedule. If it qualifies, playoff rounds will follow. Huntington’s first game will be played on Thursday, April 30 at Walt Whitman at 4 p.m. The Blue Devils’ first home game is set for Tuesday, May 5 against Kings Park at 4 p.m.