Men’s and women’s Cabrini CSAC basketball champions got the opportunity to run the sixth annual Special Olympics basketball clinic at the Nerney Field House.
Basketball has a lot of opportunities for myself and student athletes,” Cabrini women’s basketball coach Kate Pearson. “And it’s a great way for us to give back to the game and help the special Olympic athletes.
Cabrini continued with their partnership with the Special Olympic of Delaware County’s basketball team. The last women’s basketball coach Bobby Morgan started the event with the Special Olympic athletes.
“It’s an opportunity for special Olympic athletes to come and get some practice in,” Pearson said. “Receive some instruction from our student athletes to prepare themselves for their weekend tournaments.”
The event started with a group introduction and then every athlete’s favorite, running suicides up and down the court to warm up.
Cabrini athletes then led small groups of Special Olympic athletes through a series of drills.
“This is my fourth year doing this,” senior forward Fran Rafferty said. “Honestly, working with these kids here I can see that of these kids can play with us.”
Each group started with simple drills involving dribbling, passing and shooting. Eventually the drills grew more advanced as the athletes learned pick and rolls, as well as post moves.
After a quick water break, all of the athletes got on one side of the court as Cabrini athletes made a high-five tunnel. Each Special Olympic player was announced and then ran through the tunnel just as the Cabrini athletes do before a game.
“It means a lot to me because I am able to help others,” senior forward Anie Rivituso said. “It means a lot not only to the student athletes but to the special Olympic athletes too.”
After the athletes were called out over the loud speaker they participated is multiple five on five scrimmages. Five Special Olympic players took on a co-ed CSAC championship Cabrini College squad.
“My favorite part about the day was playing the games,” Special Olympic athlete, James said. “She [pointing to Anie] made this great, I had fun!” Anie helped run the group that James was in.
The event is not only about the humbling impact that the Cabrini athletes have on the Special Olympic Athletes but how the Special Olympic athletes impact Cabrini’s athletes.
“Overall its one of the best experiences I have had here at Cabrini.” Rivituso said. “It’s a lot of fun just to play ball with them and treat them like one of us because they are so excited to play against us in a scrimmage.”
“It’s easy to see that you’re making an impact on these athletes when you see how excited they are to play against you,” Rafferty said.
“I have been lucky enough to continue the tradition as the head coach,” Pearson said. “It’s something that has been a rewarding experience for our athletes and exciting experience for our special Olympic athletes to come and play on a college court.”