OAKLEY (KPIX) — Student athletes with developmental disabilities from all across the East Bay got to play some serious ball with the pros Tuesday.
Welcome to Freedom High School’s annual Unified Basketball Clinic put on by the Golden State Warriors and Special Olympics of Northern California.
The Dubs’ Youth Basketball crew put participants of all abilities through high-energy drills including passing, driving for layups and sharpening that shooting touch.
It used to be students with disabilities were kept quietly off by themselves but that’s not how they do it here in Oakley.
The girls’ basketball coach Jeff Jonas founded the event so every kid has a chance at a typical high school experience.
“You know, a lot of our high school memories are those ones we carry with us through our whole lives,” says Jonas. “And, why should any group be excluded from that?”
After all, they are all high school students and former Warrior center Adonal Foyle says he remembers those days when his height used to make him feel different and out of place.
“I had a very early idea that being different is not always easily accepted and that it comes with the understanding that people are people, and love is love, and basketball is basketball,” said Foyle, the Warriors’ Community Ambassador.
People, love and basketball: it’s a powerful combination that can bring groups together so nobody has to feel like an outsider.
“Now, after this I’ll see ’em around campus and we’ll be friends and so we’re all gonna hang out just like anybody else,” said Alexis Steel, a basketball player visiting from Deer Valley High.
Her fellow student Jesus Guerra agrees.
“It brings everybody together and that’s the way the world’s supposed to be — to bring everybody together,” he said.
All-in-all, about 150 kids from nine East Bay high schools participated in the clinic.