Independent Skills Program wins basketball gold at Special Olympics

On March 1, Paso Robles High School hosted the Special Olympics San Luis Obispo County Unified Basketball Tournament at the Gil Asa Gymnasium. The tournament featured high school and adult athletes from three local districts including Paso Robles Joint Unified. The other two districts in attendance were Atascadero Unified School District and San Luis Coastal Unified School District.

The Paso Robles team of Alex Allanez, Anselmo Contreras, Ty Fanslar, Jarod Wells, Phillip Wright, Bryce Alexander and coach Mike Ziegler took home the gold medal. The team is made up of the class in the Independent Skills Program at Paso Schools that helps 18 to 22-year-old adults with moderate to severe disabilities learn valuable everyday skills.

The adults attend the class five days a week for seven hours and learn skills like how to cook in the kitchen’s classroom and how to clean. Thanks to an allocation from PRJUSD’s Captial Investment Plan, the adults in the class moved into a new facility last February that has a full kitchen, a classroom and a common area.

The students spend time learning vocational and social skills as well as utilizing public transportation and taking field trips.

As the athletes took the court, the Bearcat cheerleaders cheered. In the first game, Paso faced off against the team from Atascadero before finally battling San Luis Obispo in the gold medal match.

The Paso team jumped out to a large lead on the Tiger team thanks in large part to the inside scoring of Wells. However, the Special Olympics is not about dominating defeats, while winning is important, the entire class agreed that fun is paramount.

The Paso team stopped trying to score and wanted to make sure the other team enjoyed the game as well. With just a few minutes left on the clock, the Paso team looked up at the score and noticed they had not only let the San Luis team come back, they had allowed them to take the lead.

Paso regrouped and scored a couple baskets and secure their gold medals.

The athletes are now preparing for the Special Olympics Spring Regional Games which will take place at Cuesta College May 4 and will feature up to 500 athletes of all different ages from all over the county.

Special Olympics San Luis Obispo County offers training and competition opportunities in 11 different year-round sports.


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