Special Olympic athletes compete in basketball tournament at UW-Stout

Published: Feb. 17, 2019 at 2:15 PM CST
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Special Olympic athletes from west-central Wisconsin had a heated day of friendly competition at the University of Wisconsin-Stout on Sunday.

Athletic director Melissa Maxwell said, “It's a great competition for them. They get to meet all these different athletes from around the state and compete against them and make new friends and they get to show what they can do on the court.”

Around 500 Special Olympians participated in the annual district basketball team and skills tournament.

“We have about 110 athletes competing in basketball skills and then 42 teams in traditional basketball tournament,” said Maxwell. “We have dribbling we have passing and we have some shooting skills.”

Athlete Kent Kohlepp says he’s participated for years and has a favorite event. Kohlepp said, “Mine is passing and shooting.”

Nearly 100 volunteers also spent time assisting the athletes on the court including students from UW-Stout.

Volunteer Emily Wolf said, “I just really like to help out. I think they all deserve a chance to play sports. I think it's really fun and everyone deserves a chance.”

The competition brings out the best in the athletes while also allowing them to show off their skills on the court.

“It's fun to see their faces light up when they're just doing events,” said Wolf. “Even something as simple as passing, that's what I was doing, but they just get so excited and it's really fun to feel their energy.”

The organization says all competitors received a ribbon after competing in the tournament.