It’s all about the game

Gary Moratz / Roundup

Pierce College is helping support Tri-Valley Special Olympics by donating the basketball court in the gym every Friday night from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. through the end of May.

Tri-Valley is our local area division out of the 32 area divisions of the Southern California Special Olympics. The SOSC offers 12 different types of sports programs for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.  

“They’re a great group of athletes, if one of them fouls they will raise their hand and say that was me,” said Coach Shannon Hall. “They’re very respectful and they love playing the game.”

Tri-Valley uses the Pierce gym for basketball practice matches against each other in preparation for tournaments that are hosted by different area divisions around Southern California. The tournaments take place on weekends starting at around 8 a.m. and the teams usually have three to five games, allowing participants to have fun all day long.

Their first tournament takes place April 26 at 8 a.m. at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

“It’s fun playing other teams at the tournament because we don’t know each other and our defense could be stronger and theirs weaker, or the other way around,” said player Merle Frost. “Even if we lose it’s still fun and that’s what it’s about.”

The basketball “Team Competition” events have three categories consisting of half-court basketball: 3-on-3 competition, unified sports team competition and unified half-court sports team competition.

For athletes with lower ability levels they participate in different types of competition like individual skills contest, team skills basketball and unified sports individual skills competition which consists of one athlete and one partner.

Experienced players like Frost, who has been playing for 23 years, mingle in with newer players.

“This is my first game and I love it,” said Alex Urbano, who recently started with the program.

The program helps individuals to be physically fit and productive members of society by participating in various sports training and competition. More information about the program is available at


Marty breaks free from defender Alex to take a shot in a scrimmage game preparing for the Tri-Valley Special Olympics. (Melissa Keys / Roundup)