Special Olympics Tennessee hosts basketball tournament for the first time in 4 years

Posted at 10:03 PM, Mar 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-10 23:18:53-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It's been a busy week for basketball fans, with thousands filling the streets of Broadway and the seats of Bridgestone Arena for the SEC tournament.

But this isn't the only tournament in town this weekend. For the first time in four years, 200 athletes from across the state, will be competing once again at the Special Olympics Tennessee State Basketball Tournament.

For coach La'Wanda Jenkins and her son, the return of the competition means a lot.

"It was a sad period. Cause our kids see this as a huge family. So this is a family reunion. So now our family reunion is back," she said.

The competition was put on pause for the last few years due to the pandemic and weather related events.

"Although it was difficult, we just kept saying y'all we're going to pray, we're going to play again, we just got to hold out. Special Olympics, they have to make sure everybody is safe," she said.

Jenkins has been coaching the Sumner County Yellowjackets for several years and said it's amazing to see athletes competing with each other again.

"Words cannot explain and I'm speaking from a coach and my joy doesn't even compare to what the kids go through," she said.

It's a full sporting experience that many Special Olympics athletes only see once in a while.

"We practice every now and then but just being able to have referees, real referees. Having a team that you play against, not playing against each other," she said.

And it's not all about taking home a trophy for athletes.

"My kids it's not about winning or losing they just like playing they enjoy seeing all the people they haven't seen in years," Jenkins said.

The tournament will continue at Lipscomb University's Allen Arena tomorrow from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Admission is free and people are encouraged to stop by to cheer on the athletes.

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