Badger Ballers bounce along with third annual event last Tuesday
EPHRAIM—Fans at the Horne Activity Center got loud for one of the most important games of the Snow College basketball season, and the game didn’t even count.
Snow men’s and women’s basketball teams united to host the third annual Badger Ballers Invitational last Tuesday, Nov. 8, scrimmaging with the help of local special needs children and teens in the Sanpete community.
Parents and friends of the youth enthusiastically showed their support as those special needs youth who registered got to experience being in a college basketball game.
For many parents, it was a chance to see their children shed the label of “disabled” and thrive in a public setting.
“Sam [our son] had a wonderful time participating in Badger Ballers this year,” Manti native Jeana Cheney said.
Cheney’s son, who has autism, participated in the invitational for the second time.
“He really enjoyed playing basketball with the Snow team, as well as his peers,” Cheney said. “This program is so great, and we are thankful for the courage and happiness it brings to the participants.”
Badger Ballers started in 2014 under the direction of Snow Professor Sandra Cox. Cox advises the Snow newspaper, Snowdrift and teaches public relations. The invitational was primarily organized and advertised by students in her public relations course. The first Invitational turned out exceptionally well and became an instant tradition at Snow.
Since that time, Cox has worked with the athletics department and student life office to ensure the continuance of the special event. The growth in popularity has shown in the turnout, as hundreds attended the invitational to support the athletic program as well as their special needs community.
In the case of young Sam Cheney, his LDS church leaders and fellow deacon’s quorum members came out to support him. The participation has increased as well. Cox reported that over 30 special needs individuals registered to play, including Snow College’s very own D-Bob Bailey.
To prepare the participants for the game, members of the Snow women’s basketball team worked the youth through basic drills and warmups.
Due to the high volume of registrants, two games were played. Snow’s men’s team teamed up with the first group of participants, and the Lady Badgers took over in the second game.
Snow College provides an atmosphere akin to a season game to enhance the excitement level, complete with cheerleaders, scoreboard operators, referees and the Badger pep band.
“It was a lot of fun watching the whole community come together,” Snow guard Quinn Nielson says. “It’s just a great time to get the community to come together, and the kids get to be the heroes for the day. I think it even brought our team together. Even though there were two teams, we all felt like one team.”
While the event is still only three years old, Cox believes that it is a tradition that is firmly cemented in the Sanpete community already. In the future, Cox plans to organize Badger Ballers for coming years through the Snowdrift.