MEMBERS OF the Melrose Unified Basketball team are hoping to be selected as a Massachusetts delegate to the Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando next June. (Raj Das www.edphotos.com)
Tourney this weekend could send them to Orlando
By JENNIFER GENTILE
THE MELROSE—Besides collecting wins this season, the Melrose High Unified basketball team has more to celebrate this season: a potential appearance at the 2021 Special Olympics event in Orlando, Florida.
Melrose is among six schools in Massachusetts hoping to be included in the Massachusetts delegation that will compete in the 2022 Special Olympics in Florida.
To do so, Melrose will have to compete in the performance of their lives this Saturday at Ursuline Academy in Dedham at 10:00 a.m. Melrose will take part in an all-day jamboree that will be judged by a panel examining teams based on factors such as game score/win-loss, levels of inclusion, conceptional understanding of the game and defensive/offense strategies, among others.
Melrose will compete with a field of teams from Milord, Franklin, Weymouth, Plymouth and Lynn, who are all vying for a chance to represent Massachusetts in Orlando for the Special OIympics USA Games starting on June 5. Athletes from around the country will showcase their talents at the ESPN’s Wide World of Sports. Unified Basketball team competition will consist of 14 players, and Melrose hopes to be among the fray.
The 2022 Special Olympics will unite more than 5,000 athletes and coaches from all 50 states and the Caribbean for a week of competition in nearly 20 different sports, including Unified Basketball.
Melrose coach Matt Mandredi earlier this year applied for the chance for the team to battle on Saturday to be considered. “We’re very excited about the opportunity to play on Saturday,” he says. “Getting to Orlando would be incredible. There’s a lot of work to be done on our end. We’re hoping that we’ll have a lot of fan support this weekend and that our team will be the one selected.”
Melrose will find out who is chosen to represent Massachusetts in December. It will be a long, nerve wracking wait but until then, there is still basketball to be had. And Melrose enters this weekend on a winning streak. They competed on Monday at Wakefield against the Warriors and pulled off a giant win, 71-47.