East Buddies Club participates for the first time in Special Olympics basketball tournament


photo by Madie Miller

Derek Moore, class of 2019, cheers on the Buddies Club team as they attempt to score a basket. Moore coached the Buddies Club team in preparation for the tournament.

Madie Miller, Print Editor-in-Chief

photo by Madie Miller
Derek Moore, class of 2019, cheers on the Buddies Club team as they attempt to score a basket. Moore coached the Buddies Club team in preparation for the tournament.
photo by Madie Miller
Edith Veitch, class of 2021, prepares to take a shot at the basketball hoop. Veitch competed with Buddies Club in the Special Olympics tournament on Dec 15.
photo by Madie Miller
The Lincoln Middle School cheerleading team cheers on Buddies Club as they face off against Auburn and Jefferson. The Loggers are coached by Veronica Seehawer.

   As Edith Veitch, class of 2021, prepared to play for the first time in the Special Olympics basketball tournament, she worked alongside some of her best friends within Buddies Club to prepare for the big day. Veitch and her teammates were coached by Derek Moore, class of 2019, who coached them every Tuesday and taught them how to dribble, pass and shoot.  

  The big day arrived on Dec 15, where the East Buddies Club team faced off against Auburn and Jefferson who played as one team, and then Guilford.

  “He (Derek) helped us a lot to prepare for the tournament. My favorite part was being with everyone. I liked being forward and defense. It was hard to run a lot, and I got pretty sweaty, but it was a lot of fun and a positive experience. I’ll definitely do it again next year,” said Veitch.

  Moore was asked two years ago by Jessica Gerrond, Buddies Club advisor, to join their family of general education and special education students. Those two years have not only brought new opportunities to Moore’s life, but also changed him as a person.

  “I’m definitely a lot more composed, understanding and more patient than I was about two years ago before I started Buddies Club. I understand that not everybody is the best at everything, so I kind of have to work with what everybody can do and help them try to have fun,” said Moore.

  Although Buddies Club had lost both of their games in the tournament, the crowd continuously cheered them on with every pass, dribble and shot. Parents, students, graduates and even Lincoln Middle School cheerleaders came to cheer on Buddies Club in the tournament.

  With new opportunities blooming, Gerrond plans on taking hold of each and every one of them.

“This basketball tournament was a special olympics sanctioned event, and students are now able to participate in any special olympic activities that are offered. It’ll lead to us probably doing the special olympics track and field competition this spring,” stated Gerrond.

  When Liam Osborne, class of 2018 graduate, started Buddies Club three years ago, it wasn’t expected to grow as much as it has.

  “When we first started, nobody really knew what to expect, so we had very few special education students attending because we didn’t know how many general education students would be interested,” said Gerrond. “At that point, I think we had six special education students coming, and we realized real fast that there were about twenty to twenty-five general education students coming. We needed to build up the special education numbers. So now, we’re at about forty-five students that attend on average each week.”

  Opportunities like Special Olympic sanctioned tournaments are not only allowing Buddies Club to be able to grow outside of the classroom, but allow Buddies Club to bring relationships closer together.

  “I think that it has helped to build relationships between our general education and special education students, and it’s just been a fun weekly activity to get everybody together to build some teamwork,” added Gerrond. “It’s helped to foster the relationships. Before, we were doing a lot of activities in the classroom, and this is really fostering like more gross motor type activities that we weren’t able to do before.”