School hosts unique event at Woodstock Thunder Dome

by | May 16, 2024

WHS Unified Basketball Tournament spreads message of sportsmanship beyond scoreboard

By Ainslie MacInnis, Woodstock High School student reporter

Following the May Day celebrations, a dedicated team of volunteers and enthusiastic players took centre stage, organizing and hosting a unified basketball tournament at Woodstock High School that defied stereotypes and shattered barriers. 

For these young athletes, every pass, every shot, and every block told a story of resilience, unwavering determination, and the transformative power of teamwork. 

After the disappointing weather cancellation of their first tournament, the players’ spirits were soon lifted with the promise of a rescheduling in the Thunder Dome. However, the tournament was not just a series of matches; it represented opportunity and unity for these basketball lovers. 

Hundreds of volunteers, students, and community members supported the three unified teams in the inaugural Woodstock High School Unified Basketball Tournament. 

For Olivia Bustard of WHS, the tournament was a success. Her enthusiasm for the event came from her passion for shooting. For others like William Ruganda from Leo Hayes High School, the joy lay simply in the opportunity to play some basketball. 

The entire Thunder Dome erupted when athletes from all teams went in for a shot, passed to their teammates, and dribbled the ball through their legs. Players celebrated proudly and without hesitancy. Some beat their chests with pride, while others flipped their hair and sashayed off the court after sinking a bucket like a pro. 

“There is something for everyone, and just because you don’t play at what we would consider an elite level… you can still play and have fun,” said leadership advisor and tournament organizer Scott Jones. 

Jones took on the feat of hosting after the initial tournament’s cancellation. 

Community members like Jones and those who came to cheer allowed these athletes to play without limitations.  

Abby Thornton, an athlete from Fredericton High School, eagerly expressed her anticipation for the tournament: 

“We were so excited,” she said. 

With several members of Fredericton High School’s unified team graduating this year, the opportunity for another tournament offered a renewed chance to compete.  

For Thornton, the most memorable aspect of the day was not the wins or the losses. It was the incredible atmosphere in the Thunder Dome. 

Although the three teams sported different jerseys, they were united in one thing: a love for basketball. No matter the score, the shots, or the victories, the teams all finished the day with a stomach full of pizza and a heart full of new memories. 

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