Four years later: My time with Unified Basketball


David Knuckey

The seniors—myself included—and their families gather for a photo before the start of Monday's game.

Karen Manley, Editor-In-Chief

On March 11, 2019, I covered my last Unified Basketball game. Tearfully, I watched the seniors be handed flowers and cookies—gifts from the coaches—as they walked arm in arm with parents and siblings. As usual, I hid behind my camera. I listened to the letters being read out loud and reminisced on three years with a team that felt like family.

Sophomore year, I walked into the gym, completely out of my element. In need of an article to meet my deadline, I was handed a Unified Basketball game as my first ever sports article. I was terrified. However, as soon as the game began, I fell in love. The crowd cheered (for both teams) and the athletes celebrated with every shot.

As the years flew by and I spent three seasons a year with the team, I grew closer to the players. Through bus rides to state and celebratory tunnels, I found myself less a journalist and more a friend. The team took me in and three years later, I owe my experience to the seniors. For them, I leave this:

Karen Manley
Sebastein Bastille hugs coach Westyn as the season comes to an end.

Sebastein, you have the biggest heart of anyone I know. Your smile makes everything brighter and the joy you spread reminds me there is always a silver lining. You have kept me laughing through the losses.

Lina, you are so sweet and everything you do is full of heart. Your love for this sport and this team shines through always. My experience would not have been the same without you.

Robert, you are the most polite, generous guy I have met and you always brighten my day. Your impromptu art shows on the bus are something I will always remember.

Karen Manley
Dee White and Coach Westyn perform their handshake for the crowd.

Jory, I can not even express how grateful I am for your positive attitude and your constant effort to be inclusive. Your presence always brightened up the court and your kind heart kept me smiling.

Matt, I have known you since middle school but never like this. Your heart is truly in it and it has been incredible to watch this team become as much a part of you as you are a part of it.

Dee you are absolutely and 100% a total baller. You are hands down the coolest person I know and getting to watch you not only grow as a player but as a person has been a privilege.

Karen Manley
Mary Maddocks shares a hug with Coach Eberhart after four years of being on the team.

David, your determination and commitment to excellence is evident in everything you do. Watching you grow has been incredible and your will to do good inspires me to be better.

Mary, you are the reason I stayed with this program. Your kindness and open spirit brought me closer to the team immediately and I would not have been able to do this without your constant support.

Kristen, I just adore you and though you were only on the team for one season you immediately became family. You always kept things fun and lighthearted and I am so happy you joined the team.

So thank you. Thank you to the team that has taken me in for the last three years and helped me find my place. On the court with my camera, I always felt happy. And for my last time, instead of hovering on the sidelines, I was invited to center court, handed a flower, and thrown into a senior photo. For the first time in three years, I was on the other side of the camera, squished against a team that has become family. I could not have asked for more.

David Knuckey
The seniors—myself included—and their families gather for a photo before the start of Monday’s game.