Special Olympics ‘Pack the Place’ returns

Multiple teams compete, White and Blue team advance to State

Jeanne Mardegan and Catherine Crousore

With community members donning supportive blue and gold attire in the NC fieldhouse, fans cheered on the three Special Olympics basketball teams for their respective “Pack the Place” games on Jan. 20. The Gold and Blue teams played D99 at 5:00 p.m. and 5:45 p.m., while the White team opposed Riverside-Brookfield at 6:30 p.m. For weeks prior, the players had worked with their coaches in preparation for their biggest game yet and played amazing, head coach Emma Colangelo said.

“It feels amazing to be a part of this program,” Colangelo said. “So much goes into [preparing for the games] and we could not do it without our coaches, our parents, and guardians. I have watched some of these athletes learn and grow for six years now and it is such an amazing experience.” 

Special Olympics basketball is a basketball program that gives students of all abilities the opportunity to be a part of an athletic team at LT, Colangelo said.  LT’s program consists of 41 students divided into three teams – Gold, Blue, and White. Colangelo has been a coach for six years now and believes support from the community is what truly keeps the basketball program alive, she said.

I heard about the position [during] my first year at LT and I love basketball, [so I couldn’t] pass up the opportunity,” Colangelo said. “We have a great support system. Without the support of the community and our coaching staff, this program would not be able to happen. It is a team effort, just like basketball.”

The Pack the Place event differs from the typical game, as it is the only set of games that takes place in the NC fieldhouse, thus bringing in the most fans. Patrick Woods ‘23 was overwhelmed by the cheers and encouragement he and the Blue team received after winning their game against D99.

“I’m really emotional right now,” Woods said. “To have a few hundred people here, it felt good [to win].”

As a member of the Blue team, Woods will be going to the State competition during the weekend of March 10-12. The White team is also headed to State. Seeing as he didn’t get to go with the football team, Woods is looking forward to attending the State tournament with his basketball teammates.

“It feels great [to be going to State] with this team, especially as a senior,” Woods said.