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Delayed by pandemic, Ken-Ton holds first ever unified basketball game

Ken-Ton School District athletics director Brett Banker said the district was planning to start the team last year, but the COVID pandemic delayed it.

KENMORE, N.Y. — Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District held its first unified basketball game Thursday night.

Unified sports combines athletes with intellectual disabilities and athletes without intellectual disabilities to train and compete with other school districts. 

20-year-old Olivia Wood is a natural when it comes to basketball. She's been wanting to put on that blue and gold Kenmore East uniform on for awhile.

"She's been fighting to get this stuff for awhile, a unified team," said her younger brother, Nate Wood, who also is an athlete on the team.

"So when she got it, I had to join because the reason she wants this is because she wanted to play with me for the school, so it's great to be able to play with her."

Olivia and Nate were both in blue and gold, taking on Kenmore West on Thursday evening for the team's first ever game.

District director of athletics Brett Banker said the district was planning to start the team last year, but the COVID pandemic delayed it. He said the district plans to also start a unified bowling league come winter.

"We collectively as a district found it important to recognize student athletes of all kinds and shapes and give them these opportunities to play together, be teammates, socialize," he said.

At the end of the game, Kenmore East brought home the win, but win or lose, Olivia said, "I'm having fun."