Panthers bond with Olympians
By Jim Misunas 530News –
Great Bend boys basketball coach Tim Brooks got the idea to interact with Barton County’s Special Olympians from his daughter, Colbi.
The Fort Hays State University student coached Special Olympians in track and basketball when she was enrolled in a interpersonal skills classes at Manhattan High School. Colbi also mentored a special needs student.
After coach Brooks worked in Cimarron’s special education program, he developed the idea to invite his basketball team to work with the local Great Bend Storm, which sponsors four Special Olympic basketball teams of varying skill levels.
The Panthers showed the Special Olympians some of their patented moves and provided instruction during a fun-filled Sunday at the Panther Activity Center.
“The kids had a blast. Everybody showed up and wanted to be a part of it,” said Brooks, who said the Panthers are high-character students. “It’s a way to give back to the game of basketball — that’s enjoyed by everyone.”
Panther Logan Perry said the Panther basketball team has a lot in common this year with the Special Olympians, who face a challenge every day of their lives. Great Bend’s team has worked together to develop into a vastly-improved basketball team.
“We pull for each other and our basketball team has shown no matter what, that we’re capable of overcoming obstacles,” Perry said. “I definitely learned it’s fun to be people who love the game of basketball.”
Kody Crosby said some of the Special Olympians are regular spectators at Panther basketball games.
“They come out and watch us play baketball,” Crosby said. “It was our opportunity to give some time back to the community. We all had fun.”
Jacob Murray said it was an easy task to coach the Olympians, who watch the Panthers play basketball.
“They look up to the basketball team,” he said. “It was really fun helping out with the teams and playing some basketball with them. It was a great opportunity to give some time back to the community. We all had fun playing basketball.”
Coach Brooks said part of his task is helping the players mature and learn about their responsibility as a team member.
“It was fun for me to see the kids thrive in that environment. They just ran with it,” he said. “Our guys knew some of the players because they go to our basketball games. I knew from the past, that the Special Olympians would love someone working with them.”
There might have been more laughter than instruction, but it was good therapy for everyone involved.
“It shows that little things can mean a lot,” said Konner Ireland. “They were not expecting us. It put a smile on peoples’ faces. Everyone had so much fun.”
Ireland said the team was offered a future invitation to practice with the Special Olympians.