2018 was the first year Holyoke has had a Unified basketball team, which includes players with various abilities.  

Their coach said they finished the season as league champs, and 22News was at their exhibition game Friday night. 

“They have represented their schools, the City of Holyoke, and the Special Olympics at its best,” said Head Coach Efrain Ramirez. 

Team member Jose Perez told 22News, “We all support each other, we’re a team. It’s like a family.” 

The team is made up of Holyoke high school students, and students enrolled in special programs through Holyoke Public Schools. The team is made up of students with varying abilities and includes several partners to help lead on the court, like senior Angel Roman. 

“I get speechless once in a while, so much joy seeing the expressions on their faces, it’s like the best feeling ever,” said Roman. 

Karen Nadeau’s son, Adam, plays on the team. 

Adam sunk a few shots Friday night in their exhibition game against Chicopee Comp’s unified team. Nadeau said she’s proud of her son, and the support the team shows for each other.  

“These kids have struggled in life with their special needs, but they’ve done it,” Nadeau told 22News. “They’ve proved to all of us that they’ve done it. With their downs, they’ve got their ups. They’ve stood by each other, and they’ve worked hard for this.” 

They’re hoping it’s the first of many successful seasons.