WATERTOWN, Minn. (KMSP) - Close to 50 teams and hundreds of Special Olympic athletes have been looking forward to the Area 11 West Metro Basketball Tournament all year.
The Minneapolis Eagles have been practicing weekly for these match ups, which are the qualifiers for the state tournament next month.
Special Olympics Minnesota provides year-round sports training and competitions in 17 Olympic-type sports for more than 8,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
“It’s for our athletes. It means inclusion. It means teamwork. It's an entire community for them to be able to be a part of and it’s a community that effects more than just the team that's playing," Sam Leidholt, program manager with Special Olympics, says.
While playing hard is part of it, the smiles and fun are far more important than the scores.
“There's a lot of energy, I get to see all my friends and people I graduated with and people I work with and making new friends,” Chris Tucker, one of the players, says.
The Eagles didn't come out on top for this game, but by enjoying the best part of the day, they're already winning.