For the first time ever, Lynbrook Public School students are participating in the Challenger Basketball program this year.
Students with special needs in the middle school and high school have been playing in the intra-school basketball league, with their regular education peers serving as managers.
Lynbrook team members are Gustavo Alfonso, Michael Annesley, Ai Me Carey, Gretel Co, Hanzel Co, Justin Martinez, Joey McCorvey, Thomas Norris, Katherine Novelli and Jonah Rothafel.
Managers Noah Blondo, Franklin Canela and Maeve Lamond worked with the team, under the assistance of coaches Rosanne Bogard and John Christ. Nurse Elizabeth Mullen has volunteered her time to be on hand in case of emergencies.
With green and gold team T-shirts supplied by the Moms and Dads Club, the Owls started their season on fire.
After only one practice, they faced the undefeated Bellmore-Merrick Calhoun team, which is 25 members strong. Although it wasn't able to pull off a victory, Lynbrook came closer than any other team to unseating this Challenger Basketball giant.
The Challenger Basketball program of Long Island, which began approximately seven years ago with the Seaford, Oceanside and Bellmore-Merrick districts, has grown to include approximately 12-15 districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
“The program began a few years ago when my colleagues and I realized there was a need for integrated social activities for all students,” said Maxine Bogen, director of special services for Lynbrook Public Schools
Challenger Basketball builds teamwork while helping to boost students’ self-esteem. It supports the inclusion of students with disabilities in sports and allows them to work on their communication skills as well as their gross motor skills. The players feel a sense of belonging to a team.
The next event to look forward to will be an intra-school dance at Lynbrook High School on May 16 at 6 p.m.