The Nest

Unified Basketball Team Brings Back Falcon Pride

Adam Aleksic, Editor-in-Chief

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Great things are happening in Albany public schools! Recently, the Albany High School Unified Basketball team has been bringing students with and without disabilities together on the court to create a great experience for everybody.

“Our special needs students, who have either emotional or physical disabilities, go through practice a couple times a week,” said coach Nancy Dignum. “We’re funded through the Unified Special Olympics, but thankfully the school has provided busing for us and the gym”.

An interscholastic sport, the Unified Basketball Team “helps the kids navigate the social but also sport aspect” of basketball. Three athletes are always paired with two partners (thus the unification), and they compete against other students in the Capital Region, including Columbia, Tamerac, and Bethlehem. The program has been around for five years, but this is the first time AHS has participated.

Although the Falcons lost the championship, the team finished with a 5-3 record, and everybody had a great time. During home games, many Falcons came out to support the well-advertised athletes and there was fun on the courts and off. “Everyone was excited to be a part of it,” assistant and junior Paul Criscione told The Nest. “The special ed students are normal kids like everyone else, and like everyone else, they enjoy a good game of basketball.”

Criscione says the experience has changed him. “I see many things differently now. I watched how some of the kids struggled at the beginning of the season but then did everything they could do to get better and were so dedicated… more kids should join next year!”

Another student volunteer and AHS junior, Jonas Cabahug, energetically concurred. “It was a new, fun, positive experience. I enjoyed being a partner and helping out on practices and game days. Giving those who aren’t able to play a high school sport a chance to know what it’s like is extremely rewarding.” The adults were full of nothing but praise, as well. “They played excellent scrimmages”, fellow coach Stacey Spilman said energetically. 

This entire season has taught us so much about the supportive atmosphere at Albany High. Cooperation, opportunities, successes, fun, rewards, excitement, and sportsmanship- all the beautiful characteristics of the Falcons’ Nest.

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