Plant City’s squad, representing Florida, played in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games.
Earlier this month, Plant City High School’s Special Olympics Unified basketball team stood out in Seattle.
The team competed in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, held July 1-6 at the University of Washington, and placed fourth overall in the Unified 02 division. Though the PCHS group couldn’t recapture the magic of the team’s 2014 season, when it won gold at the USA Games in New Jersey, the team played hard and had a good time.
“It was good,” athlete Devin Amerson said. “We did awesome in the games and it was really good.”
The team stayed on UW’s campus and got all kinds of hookups from sponsors, including two new pairs of Nike basketball sneakers and a new pair of Brooks Running shoes. Team members also got to walk all around Seattle, sometimes logging five miles a day, to check out attractions like the famous Space Needle.
Head coach Lisa Goad said the team was thankful for the support it got from the Plant City community and PCHS. Principal Susan Sullivan even flew out to Seattle for the week to cheer the team on.
“I love those kids, so I decided to go. We told them if they won, I’d take them out for ice cream,” Sullivan said. “They didn’t win but played really hard, they only lost by one point (28-27 versus Alaska in the final round), so I told the coach, ‘I think they deserve ice cream.’”
Their performance at the USA Games gave the players a confidence boost heading into the next Special Olympics season and they’re getting ready for sports such as bowling, softball and swimming. Everyone left Seattle with heads held high and medals to show for their hard work.
“The kids did awesome,” Goad said. “I was very proud of the kids.”