By Caroline Sikes
February 21, 2013
It is no secret basketball is one of the most popular sports in North Carolina, so the amount of athletes that showed up at Time Warner Cable Arena® for the annual Special Olympics Clinic on February 21 was no surprise. The Bobcats practice court was full with children and adults, all with intellectual disabilities, who came to learn more about the game and interact with the players.
Before the basketball festivities began, all of the Special Olympians were treated to a meal donated from Bojangles’, who also sponsored the clinic. Cats Care, the Bobcats community outreach program, hosted the clinic that saw athletes from all over North Carolina with all different skill levels participating in drills coached by members of the Bobcats team. It was a special experience for the Bobcats players to have a chance to interact with the athletes. Jeff Adrien displayed his kindness by literally giving the shirt off his back to one lucky fan.
In his first time doing the Special Olympics Clinic, Rookie Jeffery Taylor was the last player off of the court after hanging around to sign autographs for the Special Olympic athletes who stuck around.
Taylor noted, “Everything we do everyday when we wake up is a blessing to go out and be able to play basketball for a living. Whenever we have a chance to give back, it’s a ton of fun for us. I know I enjoyed it a lot, it’s definitely a good thing.”
You could sense the excitement from the Special Olympians as they stepped onto the court and cheered for each Bobcats player as they were announced. Over the span of an hour, the Bobcats put the athletes through five different stations, including dribbling, passing, shooting and defense. When asked about the skill level of the athletes, Taylor laughed, “I was at the shooting station; we had some shooting talent!”
As a Carolina native, Ramon Sessions understands how important basketball is in the area. Whether young or old, it is an awesome experience for any basketball fan to interact with NBA players. Sessions said, “Just growing up, to meet someone in the NBA – I would be astonished. So to come out here and be hands on with them, words can’t explain how much joy it is.”
Despite the team’s busy schedule, Head Coach Mike Dunlap put everything in perspective.
“We’re privileged people. The fact that we can do that – it creates humility within our group,” he said. “I can talk to them about humility, our staff can, but there’s a grace in the humility to giving. I just think it really helps ground them to what this thing is all about.”