Sports

Special Olympic Basketball Team Makes State Tourney

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

BENSENVILLE, Ill. (WBBM) – It’s quite a day today for one sports team at Fenton High School in Bensenville.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Dave Berner reports, this is the first year for a Special Olympic team at Fenton, at 1000 W. Green St. in the western suburb.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Dave Berner reports

The basketball team is going to the state tournament.

“We play in the district finals; we win the district finals, so we’re district champs, and then you get a bid at the state tournament,” said Josh Payton, the team’s coach. “I can’t believe it.”

Thirteen players will go to downstate Bloomington to play two games. The first is on Friday, and if they win, they will play for the championship on Saturday.

“There are some coaches that will go their entire career trying to go to the state championship,” Payton said. “For me, and for these kids, and for the assistant coaches, I think that this opportunity at a state championship is just as important; just as meaningful, if not more, than a mainstream athletic team.”

Parents are equally excited.

“I’ve never gone to a basketball game in the past, rooting for the kids on the other team,” said Tom Krajecki, whose son, William, is on the team. But in the Special Olympic basketball games, he roots for both teams, and “it’s awesome.”

Added William, “I hope we win.”

Robert Molitor is also one of the 13 players going to Bloomington.

“It feels awesome,” he said. “I feel like an NBA player.”

The team needed to raise $2,000 to pay for the trip, and they got it from the community, including a benefit basketball game between the Bensenville police and fire departments and Fenton faculty.