Holmes County Bucks provide a bridge to community through basketball

Holmes County Bucks provide a bridge to community through basketball

Image Credit: File

The Holmes County Board of Developmental Disabilities has always gone to great lengths to celebrate March as National Board of DD Awareness Month, but when the pandemic brought much of the interaction to a grinding halt, many of the enjoyable activities it was used to presenting were put on hold the past two years.

This March they continue to pare down on activities for the month, but one way they have been able to have clients share with the rest of the community has been through the Holmes County Bucks, the organization’s basketball team.

While the Bucks have annually played other BDD teams from around the state, they have not played the past two winters, and in creating a schedule this year, the board decided that rather than travel and play other BDD teams, they would invite area businesses, organizations and church groups to play the Bucks, making for plenty of home games.

On March 15 at 7 p.m. at West Holmes High School, the Bucks will play their annual year-end game against the Holmes County All-Stars, a group yet to beat the Bucks in about two-dozen tries. The game is free to the public, and everyone is invited to root on the Bucks.

According to Marianne Mader, Holmes County BDD superintendent, this program has served as a conduit to connecting their organization to the community.

“It’s helped raise awareness through the vehicle of the Bucks basketball game because it is an easy connection and it showcases the skills, strengths and abilities of people with disabilities,” Mader said.

Mader said once people play or experience one of the Bucks games, it is easy to realize why these games are so genuine and enjoyable.

While they have missed the chance to share with high school groups and provide other activities for the students and clients at the facility to enjoy, the Bucks game has been the one constant that has allowed the connection to community to continue.

Mader said they continue to be cautious with activities because of health issues among the clients at the center, so the basketball team has picked up the mantle to spread cheer and connect with the community.

“We continue to find any way possible to keep those lines of communication with the community rolling,” Mader said. “We kind of stumbled upon this idea, and the players enjoy it. The community seems to have really taken to it.”

She said it is now at the point that they could continue to extend the season if need be, noting one of the caveats of playing community teams is the Bucks don’t have to travel, sitting on long bus rides.

She said once the season is complete, the board and coaching staff will meet with parents and families of the athletes to discuss if they would like to continue the trend.

She said it could become a blend where they play the Special Olympic teams of the connecting counties, which would cut back on travel, and play local volunteer teams.

“It’s been a very fun program that has allowed us to connect, and that is what is most important,” Mader said. “It really feels as though more people than ever have been able to make that connection with our athletes and with what we are doing here at the center, and it feels like a great fit.”

With a host of all-star talent from all over Holmes County ready to try to break that string of losses this season, the Bucks invite everyone to come to West Holmes on March 15 to enjoy the atmosphere that accompanies this special event.

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