CVU Unified basketballers head to Seattle

Photo by Peter Booth
The Champlain Valley Unified basketball team in Seattle. Front row: Kevin Conger, Erin Watson, Hayley Clos and Gary Whalon. Back row: coach Anthony Spagnolo, Wayne Elias, Shannon Loiseau, Lindsey Albertelli, Paul Keen, Graham Walker, Robert Ellis Clark and coach Peter Booth.

The Champlain Valley Unified basketball team is swapping out its red-and-white uniforms for some green and white ones.

The Redhawks are in Seattle to compete for Vermont in the Special Olympics USA Games from Sunday, July 1 through Friday, July 6.

“We have never played on such a big stage,” said coach Peter Booth in an email from Seattle. “We were able to get in and see the basketball court we are going to play on and it is huge. It seats over 15,000 people. Quite a step up from a high school court in Vermont.”

The unified team pairs students with developmental disabilities with athletes from CVU’s basketball team.
The CVU team took to the court for the first round of play on Monday and Tuesday, facing off against Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts and Minnesota. The games then turned to a single-elimination tournament beginning on Wednesday.

“We are excited to be here in Seattle,” Booth said. “We have been practicing twice a week since March … the full CVU team from March to May. For May and June it was just the 10 players who were selected to represent Vermont.”

Those 10 players include: Paul Keen (Shelburne), Robert Ellis-Clark (St. George), Graham Walker (Hinesburg), Wayne Eillis (Williston), Hayley Clos (Williston), Kevin Conger (Williston), Shannon Loiseau (Williston), Gary Whalon (Williston), Erin Watson (Williston) and Lindsay Albertelli (Williston).

The CVU group was chosen to represent Vermont because of its success on the court during the high school season and strong participation in events like the Penguin Plunge for Special Olympics athletes, according to Booth.

The USA games, which features 4,000 athletes and coaches participating in 14 team and individual sports, welcomed the athletes with an opening ceremony on Sunday before the games kicked into high gear on Monday.

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