BOULDER—The University of Colorado men’s basketball program on Friday hosted a group from the City of Boulder’s EXPAND program to watch practice and then interact with the players in a series of activities on the Coors Events Center floor afterwards.
The EXPAND Program, or EXciting Programs Adventures and New Dimensions helps people who have disabilities improve and gain new recreation and leisure skills that will enhance participants’ overall well being and qualify of life.
The CU players likely got as much out of the exercise as did the EXPAND team members.
“It makes us realize how good we have it,” sophomore Josh Scott said. “It’s good for us to be around people that just love being around us and appreciate what we do and we’re not being judged for our performance. To see them smile brings smiles to our faces; it’s just a great experience.”
EXPAND member Marius Suffian said Scott was his favorite player and the highlight of his day was to be able to be on the Coors Events Center court.
“It’s really an honor to be on the court, I’ve been in the stands before, but this is my first time on the court,” Suffian said. “We’re having a blast, it’s been a fun day hanging out with the team, watching them practice and being able to shoot around with them. I’m learning a lot about basketball.”
CU coach Tad Boyle said he’d like his team to participate in more things like this in the future.
“It’s a great day, a group of wonderful people and a wonderful organization,” Boyle said. “We’re honored and humbled to be a part of it. Especially around the holidays, we have so much to be thankful for, the spirit and enthusiasm that these guys bring to the gym in infectious and it helps us as much as it helps them. I’d like to do this kind of thing more often.”
After a warm-up session, the groups split up to the two end baskets and held a competition to see which group could first hit five shots around the three-point line. Then after a half-court shot contest, the group posed for a photo at midcourt and had some shoot around time with the CU players and staff.
Jeff Cole, a sophomore at CU who works with EXPAND, said this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the EXPAND members.
“It’s an incredible experience, a dream come true to be on the same floor as world-class athletes,” Cole said. “I’m so happy we could make this work, it’s something that’s great for all parties involved, I know CU interacts with the community on a regular basis, which is great.”
EXPAND first started talking with Assistant Coach Jean Prioleau and with the help of Bill Cartun and CU’s Community Outreach Coordinator Rachel Ripken, the event took shape.
The Buffs are dedicated to developing a culture of leadership in which CU student-athletes act with personal responsibility, integrity and conviction. Leadership through service is a vital part of the CU Leadership and Development Program. Find out more at CUBuffs.com/LDP. More information about the EXPAND program can be found on the City of Boulder website> https://bouldercolorado.gov/parks-rec/expand-program-for-people-with-disabilities.