Sometimes in sports it doesn't matter who wins or loses or even how you play the game.
It might be about the pomp and circumstance and roar of the crowd, a feeling not everyone gets to experience.
Last Tuesday, Mesquite High School in Gilbert played host to a basketball game versus Desert Ridge High School. Half the players on both teams have special needs. It was an opportunity for them to play in front of their peers.
“They never get this opportunity. For a lot of them, this is the first time of them performing in front of a crowd of this magnitude,” said Gloria Hernandez, who coached the Mesquite High School team.
The game was complete with a school band, cheerleaders and a student cheering section. The atmosphere was similar to a regular home game. For the players, it was a time to shine.
“I'm usually up there in the stands. This time I'm actually in front of the people,” said Adriel Palomo, a sophomore at Desert Ridge High School.
“We've been practicing for like two weeks now,” said Ryan Divita, a freshman at Mesquite High School.
The support of their classmates goes beyond the cheers. The students helped put the game together. The refs were members of the Mesquite High School basketball team, and students designed the banners.
They didn’t just help their classmates -- they were supporting their friends.
“No doubt about it. Hang out with them. I go with my best friend Kylie over there to the mall. We hang out every weekend. It’s so much fun,” said Cassie Clemens, a senior at Mesquite High School.
Life is built on moments and for the special needs student-athletes, this game will shine just a little brighter.
“Even if they don't win or lose, whatever it is, they're out there playing their hearts out,” said Clemens.
It was a win-win for everyone. The game ended in an 18-18 tie.
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