Photo by Scott Strasser.

Photo by Scott Strasser.

Special Olympics 3-on-3 basketball tourney comes to Courtenay

Diverse-needs students from five Vancouver Island schools competed

The Comox Valley’s second annual Special Olympics 3-on-3 basketball tournament took place at Mark R. Isfeld Secondary School on April 13.

Around 40 students representing high schools from Courtenay, Port Alberni, Nanaimo, and Parksville took part.

Randy James, a co-ordinator with Comox Valley Special Olympics, said the initiative originally stemmed from Ontario and is “in its infancy stages” in B.C.

“It’s basically getting everybody into the spirit of Special Olympics, introducing them to some competition and allowing them the opportunity to wear their school’s jersey or colours and compete against their peers,” said James.

This year marked the second time the 3-on-3 tournament has taken place in Courtenay. Last year, the tournament was hosted at G.P Vanier Secondary School.

James, who is also a work experience co-ordinator for Isfeld Secondary, said the tournament provides the students the opportunity to showcase their skills to the rest of the school body, as well as the greater community.

“Students with intellectual disabilities don’t seem to have the same advantages or opportunities as other athletes or individuals within our community,” he said. “People rally behind them and see what they’re actually capable of. We really want them to shine and demonstrate their abilities.”

Teams from five secondary schools competed in the tournament: Two teams each from Isfeld and G.P. Vanier, two teams from Port Alberni, a team from Nanaimo North and a team from Ballenas Secondary.

Mark R. Isfeld diverse needs teacher Kari Bennett coached the two Isfeld teams. She said the tournament provided a great opportunity for her students to “show how amazing they are.”

“They have incredible basketball skills, they’re wonderful teammates, and they’ve learned a lot about the game of basketball and being together over the last two months or so,” she said.

Nanaimo North ultimately won the A Division of the tournament, while Vanier B won the B division.