BY ERIN HELLHAKE
Play Unified started its basketball season in early December. The program had been on a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The purpose of Play Unified is to provide every student with an opportunity to have a signature high school experience,” said Ms. Chlebowski, Play Unified advisor. “We create access and empower everyone to get involved.”
The Play Unified team, composed of partners and athletes with and without disabilities, competes against other schools, such as Monroe, Neptune, Edison, Matawan Regional, and Perth Amboy. “We are hoping to compete in the Division 1 level this year,” said Chlebowski.
At the end of the season, the team plays in a tournament called the Unified Cup. Play Unified took second place in 2017. While it is fun to compete, “The best parts of the club are making friends and being able to work as a team” according to Angel Cione.
“I have known a lot of the students since middle school,” said senior Will Kennedy. “I have a lot of fun working with the athletes and team.” Kennedy said that though this is his first year participating in the basketball program, he joined the Project Unified club his freshman year.
The Project Unified club meets weekly, but the Play Unified sports program holds tryouts and competitions as an NJSIAA sports team. The basketball program began in 2014. “I always look forward to the program,” said senior Victoria Krol. Krol enjoys being in the club because of its inclusiveness and shared that her favorite memory is receiving her varsity jacket.
Senior Lilian Adelfio said, “The club gives me hope that there will be a point where inclusion happens daily and in every aspect of our lives – not just in small, organized spaces. Being with the team brings me so much joy and shows me what I want to do with my future.”
The teams’ next home game is against Perth Amboy on Tuesday, January 11 at 4pm in the OBHS main gym. You can find more information and the updated game schedule on Instagram at @OBHSPlayUnified.
Posted on 1/10/22
Photos by Madison Benner