Bronzeville's Special Olympics basketball players win back-to-back state championships

Maher Kawash Image
Friday, April 12, 2024
Special Olympics basketball players become back-to-back state champs
Bronzeville, Chicago students celebrated their Special Olympics Unified Basketball State Championship win at a pep rally on Friday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- De La Salle High School filled with energy on Friday as students gathered for a pep rally to celebrate its Special Olympics basketball team.

"So exciting, man. So exciting!" said Matthew Furdge Jr.

The athletes at De La Salle partnered with students at the Southside Occupational Academy, and for the second year in a row, they're state champs.

"For me, it was a fun experience getting to experience new people and new things. I played basketball for the school here, and then I stopped, so I wanted to contribute to the team," said athlete Myles Green.

It was a special Friday afternoon for students at De La Salle High School with everyone coming together to celebrate a Special Olympics Unified Basketball State Championship. Mascots there got in on some of the fun with the athletes, with all of it making for quite the celebration.

"It feels so good to win back-to-back Unified Basketball state champions. I couldn't do it without my teammates. I love them to death. They're like my family. De La Salle, my family. South Side, my family," Furdge said.

Tom White is the head coach of the team. He has coached basketball for 39 years. But he said the last two seasons with this Special Olympics squad have been his favorite.

"I've never had so many kids tell me how much they've loved me, and when we go down to these things, their mindset is so cool. I'm blessed," White said.

The students cheered on their classmates through a number of activities at the pep rally to end the school day.

Principal Tom Schengen said this entire experience will be a lifelong memory for the students.

"I think the lifelong memory for them is just friendship. I mean, they've developed friendships with all of the kids, our kids and the Unified South Side Basketball kids. These kids talk to each other outside of school, now. It's not just a practice and a game thing," Schengen said.