On a cold November evening, there was warmth to be had as Snow College Athletics teamed up with families all around the major Sanpete county area to host the 2nd Annual Badger Ballers Special Needs Game.
Snow College’s basketball teams joined together on Tuesday with local special needs citizens to play an exhibition game that brought residents from all over central Utah together for an inspiring event. The event was organized by Snow College’s Public Relations class under the direction of Professor Sandra Cox and Public Relations class president, Emily Cottrell.
“We just really hope that it brings the community together, with the special needs community also,” Emily said before the game, “and that we have a fun and safe game. They seem very excited and both of the teams are also very excited.” As an ambassador at Snow, Emily explained that it was her first experience being involved with the event, but has been looking forward to it for a long time.
The event featured two games played between teams composed of Snow College basketball players and special needs citizens, including well-known Snow alumnus, D-Bob Bailey. Although scores were kept, it was the impact seen on the faces of those citizens that made the night. Said Cottrell, “I’ve never heard the crowd cheer this loud! The smiles on these kids’ faces is so big! Every time someone makes a basket, the crowd roars.”
Organizers of the event have been stunned this year by the turnout of residents in the area to the game. Assistant men’s basketball coach Chris Gold recalled, “I was kind of surprised at how many people showed up. It was almost like one of our games. Doing this was honestly one of the best experiences for our team.” Coach Gold said of the game that it was “hands-down, one of the most impactful things I have seen while at Snow.”
Sophomore, forward JR Tailey, said of this game, “It helps me realize that there are some people out there that don’t have what we have, and we have to take advantage of that and make sure we’re doing good things and positive things.”
The game was attended by two proud parents, Carl and Jolene Nielson, who watched their son, David, play on the orange team. “My heart just swelled to see the joy on these kids’ faces and the families,” said Carl, “To see these big time athletes running out there side by side and with the cheerleaders and even the students coming, it is fantastic.” Jolene commented, saying, “As a parent, it makes you feel good inside to see your child do something that he doesn’t normally get to do.”
The Badger Ballers Exhibition has become a huge success in a short time for Snow College and the Sanpete community, and many hope it will become an inspirational tradition for years to come.