Last season, the West Montana Lady Dragons basketball team took home silver at the Montana Special Olympics. This season, they partnered with the Carroll women’s basketball team in an effort to take home gold in November.
On Tuesdays, joy, hope and excitement overrun the PE Center as some Carroll College women’s basketball players spend an hour teaching game fundamentals to the West Mont team.
“We have a responsibility to give back to our community,” Carroll College women’s basketball head coach Rachelle Sayers said. “One of the ways of giving back is sharing our love of basketball.”
Carroll and West Mont formed the partnership over the 2015 winter holidays. A West Mont basketball cheerleader asked Coach Sayers if the school would help the team.
“We were excited to jump on board,” Sayers said.
Suzie Hull is a Dragon cheerleader and basketball player. She’s received the players coaching and found a new love.
“It’s my favorite team,” Hull said. “It’s my favorite sport to be on the basketball team.”
Last year’s second place finish inspired the West Mont men. This year, they added a men’s team. Winning is important. However, it’s the caring the teams show each other that really touched Susan Pesta.
“If someone falls,” West Mont VP of Supportive Services and Agency relations Susan Pesta said, “they’ll all stop to help pick that person up. It’s competitive yet it’s very compassionate.”
After this practice, the team highlights what people take for granted: Life.
As fate would have it, the Carroll players who helped will see them compete for the top spot on the podium. The Fighting Saints are off that weekend and Coach Sayers said the team plans to attend their game.
“[The players] have made great connections,” Coach Sayers said. “The minute they show up for practice our girls are calling them by name and excited to see them and giving hugs.”
Carroll will cheer for all the teams, but one West Mont Dragon has her mind made up.
“Go West Mont Dragons,” Hull said.