Connor Ellingson peered over the rim of his glasses as he dribbled a basketball across the Clovis North Educational Center gymnasium. Concentrating, he navigated through a crowd of other special education fourth- through sixth-graders to attempt a shot. It was a miss, but that didn’t knock the smile off of his face — or anyone else’s.
The energy was high in the gym filled with more than 175 special education students and their teachers from every elementary school in the district. The 22nd annual basketball clinic was hosted by Clovis North’s varsity basketball teams.
Teachers and coaches Andrea Castro and Heather Long facilitated the event along with Erin Lynch, an adaptive P.E. teacher for Clovis Unified who organizes four special education sports clinics throughout the year.
“It’s a way to include all of our kids in athletic activities when sometimes they don’t get an opportunity to participate in those things,” Lynch said.
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Other clinics include soccer at Clovis East, baseball at Buchanan and a track and field meet at Clovis North.
Students rotated through games and basketball drills for two hours Thursday morning.
Although the competitive spirit is strong in the district, Lynch assured that the clinic was all about having fun.
“They’re learning skills,” she said. “The adaptive P.E. teachers teach the classes and help them with skills to lead up to the event and then they get to come and shine, so it’s really fun.”
It’s a great opportunity for the high school varsity players to take turns refereeing games, as well.
“At the end of the day, I want my varsity players to feel better about themselves,” said Castro. “When we’re all done they say, “Wow, that was a great day.’”