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Unified basketball helping students feel included

Unified basketball is in its second year of offering sports to students from 32 Maine schools living with developmental disabilities. 

CUMBERLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Unified basketball is on its second year of giving kids with developmental disabilities the chance to play in Maine.

Students from 32 schools play on a unified basket team. Three athletes from each team are allowed on the court at one time and are assisted by two partners from their school who guide them from baseline to baseline and assist with passes and shots. Unified basketball coach, Derek Soule, decided to take on the position at Greely High School after watching how successful the program was in its first year.

"It works," said Soule. "You know from what I've seen so far it's been a great experience and there's a nice flow to the game."

When unified athletes score a basket, the joy on their faces lights up the entire gymnasium with cheers. Tim Humphrey is known as Hot Shot Humphrey on his team at Brunswick High School. His mom, Patricia Humphrey, was able to capture the moment he scored a three point shot in a game on her video camera that has made him pretty popular around the halls of his school.

"He's not just a face walking down the hall way at school, but now they know who he is and they love him and are making him a part of his high school community," said Humphrey.

Regular season games for unified basketball teams ends the first week of March. They then have an optional tournament, single elimination style, where all 32 teams will be invited to play. The state championship game will be held March 17 at Lisbon High School.

For more information on Unified basketball, visit the Maine Principals' Association website.

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