Fossil Ridge SaberCats junior Scarlet Kapoor (2) fires a t-shirt into the home crowd Friday evening as the Unified Basketball season got under way against the Rocky Mountain Lobos.
I went home with a big smile Friday night.
So did Fossil Ridge High School athletic director Ken Denning.
As did about 1,500 fans.
With all due respect to the other local sports teams, one of the best shows anyone will see this year was put on at Fossil Ridge.
In front of the biggest crowds this season, the Rocky Mountain and Fossil Ridge unified basketball teams played the happiest game I’ve ever seen.
The student sections were rocking for player introductions and the smile on the players faces after every basket led every passer-by to shake their head and say “this is the best thing I’ve seen.”
The unified squads are coed teams that feature athletes with cognitive disabilities and their partners.
The unified season kicked off last week, with teams from Poudre and Fort Collins playing early in the week and Rocky Mountain and Fossil Ridge following. The season runs through late March.
You really should catch a game. Find the schedules here.
If you want to be proud of high school students, you should have been there.
The student sections from both schools were packed and they were loud.
Instead of the taunting chants you often hear at games, both sections were cheering after every basket made by either team.
Rocky Mountain’s student section — The Pack — is known for its roller coaster cheer it does each game. Friday night the Lobos moved over into the Fossil Ridge section and the two sets of students did it together.
The unified game brought out the best in everybody.
The players couldn’t have done a better job at showing the type of class and sportsmanship fans love to see.
Teammates were passing up easy and open shots to make sure others got a chance with the ball.
We even got overtime in the final contest of the night so that the fun could be extended. There were two games, I think each school won one. But I don’t really know. Or care.
This one isn’t about the scores.
I’ve never seen a gym with roughly 1,500 people all leave in a significantly better mood then they came in with.
The biggest problem now is how are other games going to live up to that?
Journalism ethics say I don’t cheer at games.
Ethics be damned, I was clapping away Friday night.
The city of Fort Collins shines brightest during unified basketball.
Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle.