Category: Human Interest- Olympics
The Champaign Flyers:
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The Champaign Flyers:
The Story of a Special Olympics Basketball Team
Dr. Jeffrey G. Bettger, Ph.D.
Alice B. McGinty, CTRS
Brendan M. McGinty
We wish to thank the following people and organizations for their help in the writing of this book:
* Joan Brinegar, Frank and Terese Kearney, Helen Murrell, Carolyn Weakly, and Linda Whittle for their contributions and first-hand insights,
* Gary Bettger, Nancy Bettger, Gil Bettger, Linda Blumenthal, Sue McCabe, and John Rutledge for their comments on drafts of this book,
* The Champaign and Urbana Park District's Special Recreation Program for being the area sponsor of Special Olympics programs,
* George Smith at Special Olympics International for his help and support.
We dedicate this book to the athletes, families, and volunteers who made up the Champaign Flyers. You will always be a part of us!
CHAPTER 1: BACKGROUND 12
Special Olympics History 12
Special Olympics Philosophy 13
The Flyers 15
CHAPTER 2: PRACTICES 21
The First Practice--October 11, 1987 21
Skill Assessment Tests 22
Initial Misconceptions 24
Other Coaches 26
Typical Practices 27
Coaching Qualities 30
Brendan and Jeff 32
CHAPTER 3: DRILLS 38
Basic Skills - Orange Team 38
Individual Adjustments - Orange Team 39
Basic Skills - Blue Team 40
Individual Adjustments - Blue Team 45
CHAPTER 4: PLAYERS 51
Flyers Blue Team (coached by Jeff) 52
Flyers Orange Team (coached by Brendan) 59
CHAPTER 5: EARLY SEASON 74
Leaf Raking--November 14, 1987 74
Illini Practice--November 16, 1987 75
Flyers Orange vs. “Coaches”--December 11, 1987 76
Flyers Blue vs. Piatt/Illini Halftime Exhibition--December 12, 1987 79
Flyers Blue vs. Danville--December 19, 1987 82
Flyers Orange vs. Bloomington/Illini Halftime Exhibition--January 8, 1988 83
CHAPTER 6: MID-SEASON 87
Flyers vs. Bloomington--January 14, 1988 87
Scott's Birthday Party 95
Flyers vs. Charleston--January 20, 1988 96
Flyers Orange Rematch vs. Coaches--January 29, 1988 102
CHAPTER 7: LATE SEASON 104
District Tournament--February 6, 1988 106
Volunteer of the Month--February 10, 1988 114
Flyers Blue vs. Danville--February 15, 1988 115
Flyers Orange vs. Piatt--February 17, 1988 119
CHAPTER 8: PADUCAH 121
Tony Wysinger--February 24, 1988 121
The Road to Paducah--February 26, 1988 123
Banquet and Dance 129
Paducah: The Next Day--February 27, 1988 132
Going Home 138
CHAPTER 9: POST-SEASON BANQUET 139
Banquet--March 7, 1988 140
1987-88 CHAMPAIGN FLYERS AWARDS 155
Flyers Blue Team 155
Flyers Orange Team 155
Special Olympics likes to prove people wrong.
Twenty-five years ago, the world’s scholars told us that people with mental retardation shouldn’t run races longer than 200 yards. Today, we have athletes running the marathon.
Nobody believed that people with mental retardation could compete in team sports. The “experts” said that the rules, skills, and teamwork involved were too complex.
So once again, we set out to prove them wrong.
Today, Special Olympics athletes participate in a variety of team sports like softball, basketball, and floor hockey, working together to build strong, supportive teams.
The lessons of life can be learned on the court during a game by listening to someone else’s point of view, sharing the spotlight, or supporting someone who is backed into a corner. Special Olympics athletes, like any athletes, must learn to accept defeat gracefully, while also knowing when to challenge themselves and strive for victory. They learn to believe in themselves and to help others to believe in themselves.
These are the lessons that are learned in team sports, and these are the lessons that are enabling people with mental retardation to become active, contributing members of their communities.
The Champaign Flyers: The Story of a Special Olympics Basketball Team takes the concept of sports training one step further. The authors venture beyond the technical aspects of instruction to give real life examples of coaches and athletes using the drills explained in the book. This book discusses ideas that are not easily taught in manuals, like promoting teamwork, motivating athletes, and fostering leadership. It tells a story of a group of individuals with different personalities and perspectives who are brought together to become a focused team. The story chronicles practices, games, and tournament action as the coaches and team experience challenges and triumphs on and off the basketball court.
Special Olympics will continue to prove people wrong when it comes to underestimating individuals with mental retardation. We are grateful for the able contributions of people like Jeffrey Bettger and Alice and Brendan McGinty, who prove every day that Special Olympics is changing the world.
Director of Sports Training & Education
Former Team & Unified Sports Director
Special Olympics International