The courts of the Shirk Center will feature Special Olympics basketball on Sunday. (photo by Zach Dietmeier/WJBC)
By Zach Dietmeier
BLOOMINGTON - Basketball teams near and far will storm the courts of the Shirk Center tomorrow for the third annual Special Olympics Illinois district tournament.
Special Olympians from across Central Illinois are ready for the tournament at Illinois Wesleyan University this weekend. Area 6 Director Jill Speer says 38 teams will compete on Sunday on six different courts.
"Basketball is a big sport for us and it just seems to keep growing in popularity," Speer said. "Our tournament is expanding and I don't know if it might go to two days eventually. We're adding about two teams per year."
Some of the 500 expected players have been practicing for months. She especially thanks the referees and volunteers who make the free tournament happen.
"They volunteer their time to officiate anywhere from one to seven games," Speer said. "At this event, you get more out of it than you put into it as a volunteer."
Speear added that the tournament is open to the public and is an excellent opportunity to learn more about Special Olympics.
"It's always nice to see how many people come out and support this event every year," Speer said.
The high school and senior male basketball squads will fight for the opportunity to advance to the state tournament held in March at the Shirk Center at IWU and Horton Field House at ISU.