Skyler Smith’s Journey with HF-L Unified Basketball, Part 2

RESET ~ Last week we were in the midst of reviewing the timeline for the four-year history of the HF-L Unified Basketball program which happens to coincide exactly with the four-year history of Skyler Smith at HF-L. The program has been one of the most rewarding components of my high school years.

Last week’s timeline covered the conception, development and implementation of the program in Section V. I’ll pick it up here with the beginning of actual play.

APRIL – MAY 2015 (Season 1) ~ The success of the pilot season exceeds all expectations and culminates with a final event including all 14 teams at Gates-Chili High School.
APRIL – MAY 2016 (Season 2) ~ The number of teams increases from 14 to 17 with the addition of Edison #2, Fairport and West Irondequoit.
APRIL – MAY 2017 (Season 3) ~ The number of teams increases from 17 to 25 with the addition of Hilton/Kendall, Holley, HF-L #2, Newark, Red Jacket, Victor, Wayne and Webster.
APRIL – MAY 2018 (Season 4) ~ The number of teams levels off with Wayne dropping out and Webster #2 coming in. Accolades continue to pour in and the four-year tradition of the culminating event at Gates-Chili continues.

MAY 2018 ~ Section V pilots the first Unified Modified (Jr. High) Basketball program in New York State. Participating schools are Fairport, HF-L, Newark, Penfield and Spencerport.
What a great run so far.

FUNNY STORIES ~ Well now that I’ve documented the history of the program allow me to move on and share some humorous highlights. Hilarity ensued right from the beginning. Here’s one from the very first practice.

First Practice ~ Jim Arrigenna and Cory Quinter are our coaches. For the first two years Coach A. was the head coach and Coach Q. was his assistant. When HF-L added a second team during season 3, Coach Q. became its head coach. At any rate, when we were only 10 minutes into our first practice, Coach Q., always the comedian, announces to the entire gym, “Hey, if I make this half-court shot, practice is over.”

Coach A., uncertain if Coach Q. is kidding, screams out, “No!” and Coach Q. proceeds to take the shot. Coach A. quickly realizes that nobody is going anywhere and perhaps he has panicked a bit. Coach A. did want me to point out that, for the record, Coach Q. missed the shot.

Excited Teammate ~ I’ll close this week with one of my favorite stories of the past four years. A couple of years ago one of my teammates scored the very first basket of his career. Prior to accepting congratulations from his teammates on the court, he charged into the bleachers to high-five his father.

I also get excited when I score but I know if you want to come off as really cool you have to act like you’ve been there before. Even during the game when I achieved my personal high of 8 points, I did give Dad and Deb a glance and a thumbs up, but avoided the temptation of charging directly into the stands.

OUTRO ~ Every year the Unified team holds a lock-in fund raiser where everyone stays overnight inside the school. Not surprisingly, with lack of sleep combining with the free range to roam the school, some funny stories have emerged from this event and I’ll be back to share those with you next week.



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