Special Olympics sets callout meeting for basketball


Special Olympics basketball is returning to Jackson County.

A callout meeting for anyone interested in playing or volunteering is set for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Boys & Girls Club of Seymour, 950 N. O’Brien St.

During that meeting, the county management team will determine what events will be offered. Special Olympics Indiana’s basketball events are team competition (five-on-five), Unified Sports team competition (five-on-five), three-on-three team competition and individual skills competition.

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Information about practices and games also will be shared.

Each winter, the Seymour Noon Lions Club hosts the Special Olympics Basketball Tournament at Seymour Middle School, so the plan is to have Jackson County represented in that again. That includes five-on-five games and a special skills contest for those unable to participate in competitive basketball levels.

Jackson County hasn’t had a Special Olympics basketball team since 2016.

Donald Griffin and Jim Shepherd, both members of the county management team, and Shepherd’s daughter, Chloe Shepherd, a Seymour High School junior, have volunteered to coach the team.

“I think that getting basketball going again here in Jackson County will draw more athletes in,” Griffin said. “With basketball, you have a level that anyone, no matter what their abilities are, can play this sport. Get in and do the best you can do and have fun. It’s not all about winning or losing. It’s about learning teamwork and coming together and having a good time.”

Special Olympics is a non-for-profit organization that provides year-round sports training and athletics competition in more than 20 Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities ages 8 and up.

Griffin said he has never coached a Special Olympics team before, but he played unified softball for a couple of years with the Bartholomew Brown Jennings team.

“It has been a little while since I have actually been a part of a basketball team, so I have plenty of skills to brush up on, but I have always enjoyed the sport,” Donald said.

His 15-year-old son, Jeremiah Griffin, has played Special Olympics basketball for several years.

“I have always attended just about every one of his practices,” Donald said. “Most of the time during the practice, you would see me out on the floor interacting with the players, so I am super-excited to be given the opportunity to coach.”

Jim also coached this year’s Special Olympics softball team, while Chloe has several years of playing experience with school basketball teams that should help the athletes grow in their skills.

Donald said he is looking forward to coaching basketball and learning alongside the players.

“This is going to be a learning experience for us all,” he said. “I have seen a lot of great coaches with Special Olympics basketball and other sports, and I plan on trying to mimic some of the things that I liked about their coaching experience I have seen into my own style.”

By the time the season is over, Donald said he hopes the athletes have learned more about teamwork that may help them in a job setting and built several friendships.

Another way for people to get involved with Special Olympics Indiana Jackson County is joining the unified fitness club. That group meets to walk from 6 to 7 p.m. every Thursday at the Boys & Girls Club.

The club gives athletes ages 8 and up and partners an opportunity to walk and do other activities together once a week year-round. Clubs are formed using the Unified Sports model, pairing people with and without disabilities.

During one of the meetings each month, trainers from Anytime Fitness lead attendees through different exercises.

Before participating in any Special Olympics activity, athletes and volunteers must turn in all of the forms required by Special Olympics Indiana. Athletes must fill out an application for participation and a medical form, and volunteers must be a Class A volunteer and complete the online training.

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What: Callout meeting for Special Olympics Indiana Jackson County basketball

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

Where: Boys & Girls Club of Seymour, 950 N. O’Brien St.

Who: Children and adults with intellectual disabilities ages 8 and up interested in playing may attend; anyone interested in volunteering with the team is invited, too

Information: Forms to be an athlete or a volunteer may be obtained by emailing county coordinator Crystal Ackeret at [email protected] or downloaded online at soindiana.org and clicking on "Resources"

Online: facebook.com/jacksoncountyspecialolympics


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