Special Olympic athletes begin basketball season with a visit to the Harlem Globetrotters

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The Harlem Globetrotters entered Humboldt’s atmosphere, entertaining athletes young and old including the Special Olympics of northern California’s Humboldt chapter.

The Special Olympics have existed since 1968 in the United States before expanding globally.

It emphasizes diversity, and inclusivity, and lets those with intellectual disabilities show off their athletic prowess in many sports.

“I’m extremely inspired by the athletes that I work with. I get lot more out of them than they get out of me,” Special Olympics Coach Mark Wheatley said.

Wheatley has five decades of youth soccer coaching experience. Wheatley joined the Special Olympics due to a personal connection.

“I’ve been with the Special Olympics for 15 years. I have a special needs son who is an athlete. And I have a brother who had a brain injury who is also an athlete,” Wheatley said.

This local chapter is comprised of eight sports spread throughout the year.

“I’m doing basketball right now. We do bocce ball, we do softball, we do swimming, track.” Special Olympics athlete Kai said.

And with basketball season in full swing, it makes sense for the team to see the Globetrotters in action.

The Globetrotters showed off their goofy and incredible antics on the court taking on longtime rivals, the Washington Generals.

And even if the game may seem a bit silly to some, it shows the impact of sports including teamwork and self-perseverance.

Something that the Special Olympics is all about with their oath: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

These athletes are one integral part of the Humboldt community

“It’s a tremendous group of athletes. They give so much to the community. Most of them have jobs in the community and are working and coming from all different kinds of homes a social settings. They are very much a part of their community,” Wheatley said.

The Special Olympics are also looking for coaches and volunteers. Those interested can head to sonc.org/humboldt for more information on how to get involved.