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Sanford High School’s Unified Basketball Team

Members of Sanford’s unified basketball team

Members of Sanford’s unified basketball team get at least one chance to score in each game 

Photo: SHS Athletics 

Sanford High School’s Unified Basketball Team Bonds On and Off The Court 

By Sam Bonsey, Sanford Schools Communication Coordinator 

The bond between the members of Sanford High School’s Unified Basketball Team extends far beyond the court. 

Unified Basketball partners students with developmental disabilities (Unified Student-Athlete) and students without disabilities (Unified Student-Partners) to train, compete, and represent Sanford. 

The season kicked off right after Christmas break, with practices beginning in the first week of January and running until the first week of March. Over the course of the season, the team plays eight games, each consisting of two 20-minute halves with a five-minute halftime. Sanford has three games left on the season, with two at home on Tuesday, February 27th, at 3:30 p.m. and Thursday, February 29th, at the same time.  

Sanford’s Unified team has eight athletes and seven partners. During the games, the partners help organize the floor, while the athletes are the ones finishing the plays. Everyone gets at least one chance to score during every game. It’s a special moment for the athletes to have the spotlight. 

At a game earlier in the season against Wells, one of Sanford’s athletes scored her first basket of the season. Sanford Unified Coach Stephanie Boissoneault immediately saw a smile come across her face. “She lit up like a Christmas tree,” Boissoneault said. 

Reflecting on the role of partners within the team, Boissoneault spoke of their significance with admiration. “I really can’t say enough about our partners. They are such an important part of the team,” she said. “They really go above and beyond. And they are very caring students who truly make a difference.” 

One of those students making a difference is sophomore Matthew Hebert. He originally heard of the team when his older sister was in high school, and he jumped at the opportunity to join as a freshman. “I’m with the team every day, and I just love it,” Hebert said. “It’s really about building relationships.” 

Coach Boissoneault said each athlete on the team plays at least twice in five-minute segments during each game. One of the highlights from this season was a game at Thornton Academy, where the athletes and partners from both schools participated in a dance party. “That was pretty cool. It was a nice moment for them,” she said. 

Coach Boissoneault continues to see those memorable interactions off the court with her team. “To be walking down the halls and see the interactions between team members is so natural and really helps build the culture of inclusion,” she said. “Team members always take the time to greet each other when they see them out and about in the school. That leads to their friends getting to know the athletes.” 

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