STERLING, Illinois -- A first-time partnership between Outwork Elite, a youth basketball organization and Special Olympics Illinois provided a rare opportunity for differently abled atheletes to practice their skills on the court.
For Tamara Prins, the Outwork All-Star Basketball Camp in Sterling on Saturday, October 12, was a rare chance to get on the court and play with so many other athletes: 140 of them had come from across northern Illinois to join in the fun and work on their game.
"I got a small basketball court in my room," the 33-year-old from Erie, Ill., said, adding that she practiced at home, while watching television.
"I’m doing team this year," she said proudly.
Tamara's coach Trisha Manning, said the camp was a good opportunity for Tamara and her team mates to get to know each other before starting team practice. They hadn't played since March.
"My step mom was her high school coach," she recounted. "A couple years ago, they couldn’t get on the high school team anymore, so we started our own team."
Manning said there are lots of differently abled athletes at home who want to play: "We’ve got plenty of athletes. We just need the volunteers."
"This is a very special thing," she said of the camp. "Every competition we need volunteers and very few show up. "
Outwork Elite's owner, Josh Binder, said partnering with Special Olympics Illinois was a natural fit: "They’ve been looking for other opportunities to get their athletes involved, and have more opportunities like this so they can compete."
"And we were looking to put on more camps, so this is great way to partner up."
The camp had groups of athletes work on different skills. "We’ll have shooting on one court, ball handling on another, defense on another court, and passing and team work skills," he said.
The event couldn't have been possible without the many volunteers, he added. 40 coaches and more than 30 volunteers.
"We're really grateful, we've got staff from Sterling High School,Rock Falls High School, our Outwork girls and boys coaching staff. Truthfully we couldn’t have done it with all of them," he said, proving that this sport is all about teamwork.