By Anthony Navarrete, Staff Writer
Starting this year, the Jets will officially share the basketball court with a group of students from the Wichita Levy Special Education Center basketball team, known as the Levy League.
Levy is a school for students between the ages of 5 to 21 with special needs in USD 259.
The men’s and women’s basketball teams and the cheer and dance team got in on the action by working with the Levy players and cheerleaders at their pep rally and will continue to help out throughout the remainder of the Levy League basketball season.
Athletic Director Vic Trilli said he has been working with USD 259 Board of Education member Mike Rodee on having Fugate Gym be the home court for the Levy League.
Rodee approached Trilli last year and invited him to the Levy School to see the facilities they had to work with. Trilli was shown, what he called, “the good, the bad, the ugly.”
“I saw what they had for a gym, which wasn’t much of a gym,” he said.
After the visit, Trilli said they looked into the possibility of the Levy League playing at Newman and were able to do so last year. After that first game, Trilli said, everybody involved with the students loved the experience, and it was decided that the Levy League would have a home at Newman.
“We extended that situation out for this year to encompass practices. I think they practice four or five times here, and then they play all their games here now,” he said.
Trilli said the Newman University Athletic Department is an official sponsor for the Levy League and will continue to be a sponsor for the next three years.
“I’m leaving in June, so I’m proud to have that set in place so that when I’m gone they’ll have a place to go,” he said.
Trilli said there was a connection with the Levy Special Education Center as both he and some coaches at Newman have family members with special needs.
Trilli said he believes this partnership is a way for the university, as well as the students, to live out the mission and values of Newman.
Senior dancer Ashleigh Taylor said the kids and coaches of Levy helped to create a vibrant atmosphere.
She said she liked, “the look of joy at the fact that they got to come in and use our court to play basketball with their other classmates, and have fun cheering on the sidelines.” She also liked, “just to be there for a few hours and hang out with them and get to know who they are and get to watch them have fun and play.”
PHOTO: NEWMAN FUGATE GYM will be the new home gym for the Wichita Levy Special Education Center basketball team. Courtesy Photo, Newman Athletics