The voice of Lyons Township students for more than 100 years

LION Newspaper

The voice of Lyons Township students for more than 100 years

LION Newspaper

The voice of Lyons Township students for more than 100 years

LION Newspaper

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Special Olympics ‘Pack the Place’ draws support from community

White team advances to State tournament
Halina Foster ’24 of the Blue team advances the ball past half-court in LT’s ‘Pack the Place’ game on Jan. 11 (Klos/LION).

The unwavering support from community members filled the NC fieldhouse with blue and gold as the Special Olympics basketball teams competed in their annual “Pack the Place” games on Jan. 11. The program, which includes 37 students, is divided into three randomly selected teams – Blue, Gold, and White. 

The Gold team played against Park Jr. High School at 4:30 p.m. The Blue team then faced Morton High School at 5:15 p.m., and the White team concluded the event by facing Riverside-Brookfield at 6 p.m. The opportunity to showcase the skills that derived from lots of hard work and practices throughout the season is the most rewarding part, White team member Aaron Fernandez ‘24 said. 

“The amount of support we had throughout all three of the games and the cheers from fans was by far my favorite memory so far,” Fernandez said. “We gather to practice as a team twice a week and travel to other high schools for games during the season, but none of them feel like ‘Pack the Place’.”

All regular season games are held in the SC upper gyms, except for the “Pack the Place” game, which was held in the NC fieldhouse. This allows for a significantly larger fanbase to attend the game, similarly to the District tournament that was held at Unity Junior High School on Jan. 14. 

Seeing them in the main gym with everyone cheering is amazing,” head coach Emma Dominelli said. “You can see the pride that each athlete cherishes and being able to play in front of that crowd means the world to them.”

Dominelli is now coaching her seventh season of Special Olympics basketball after taking over the role as the head coach during her first year working at LT. 

“When I started coaching in 2017 it was also my first year working here as a special education teacher,” Dominelli said. “I love basketball and was looking to become a coach throughout my time as a teacher, so the Special Olympics program was a perfect fit for me.” 

The Blue team, who won over Morton High School on Jan. 11, will be headed to the state tournament for the weekend of March 10-12, in Rockford. 

“Going to state confident that we can play against good teams and in front of large crowds will put our program slightly ahead of the other teams who are less experienced with that kind of pressure,” Fernandez said.


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Matthew Klos
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