West County Special Olympics and Marquette High School Hooping it up, building friendships, and putting on a show
This story was written by SOMO Hall of Fame member Mark Bussen. Bussen, a longtime coach and volunteer, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013 for his coaching with West County in St. Louis, tireless fundraising and dedication and connection to the athletes of Special Olympics Missouri. Bussen witnessed this story firsthand and was inspired to share it with us.
The Marquette High School Mustangs and the West County Special Olympic
basketball team have developed a “Special” bond together. For many years,
the Marquette Mustang’s Varsity basketball team has hosted us for a New Years
Clinic in early January, followed up by hosting us to play an exhibition game before their Varsity takes the floor for one of their league games in February.
This year, the clinic was held on January 13th. The Marquette players and coaches
gave up their Saturday morning to host us in a fun, fast paced, but relaxed atmosphere where we got to interact alongside their players. Their players and ours, mingle together in fun drills and games, all the while building friendships and raising awareness of the talents of both teams. The clinic was followed up with a pizza party luncheon compliments of Marquette, and each one of our players was presented with a “Mustang Made” tee shirt that our athletes wear with pride.
On February 9th, Marquette played Seckman High School, but the real show began before their game as the West County Special Olympic team took the floor before
a big, boisterous crowd. Prior to our game, each player was introduced to a thunderous starting lineup ovation. The crowd really gets into it, which revs up our players, spurring them on to maximum excitement and elevated levels of play.
West County’s Scott Carron, also a Marquette alumni, is an extra favorite of the Marquette team. As Scott received a pass, the Marquette players shouted in unison for Scott to shoot a long three pointer. Scott buried the three pointer, and immediately ran off the court into the arms of the Marquette players. The crowd and players all went crazy. A Marquette coach said “I knew Scotty wouldn’t let us down”!
There is more to it than just making a long shot. Scott developed a friendship with
former Marquette star player, Chris Lenzen. Chris tragically lost his life in an automobile accident several years ago. Marquette presented Scott with Chris’s #22 jersey, and said they knew no one would be more honored to wear it than Scott, and I will promise you that is correct! After Scott made his shot, he pointed to the heavens, and I know Chris was smiling back at us. The Lenzen family has been a major donor to the Training for Life Campus, and the basketball court will be named in Chris’s honor. On top of the wonderful experience for all involved, Marquette also donated $1,900 to Special Olympics Missouri that night.
I swear they should make a movie about these kids, you can’t make this stuff up.
“Magic” just happens, and touching lives is what we do!