The Brock Badgers women’s basketball team introduced their newest recruit as part of the Team Achieve Canada program, which was officially launched Monday at Brock University.
The first Team Achieve Canada recruit is 16-year-old St. Catharines native Emily Rorke, who is a Grade 11 student at Centennial High School in Welland. The teen is now an official member of the Brock women’s basketball team and will be able to attend practices and sit on the bench during games.
“It feels amazing. I’ve always liked being part of a team,” Rorke said Monday. “It’s a good way to share the passion with everyone else and really give that vibe of making this team a family.”
In partnership with Brock Athletics and Community Living St. Catharines, the Team Achieve Canada program matches young people with intellectual disabilities with university and college sports teams.
“Our goal is to teach life lessons. Our classroom just happens to be a basketball court,” said Brock Women’s Basketball Associate Head Coach and Director of Team Achieve Canada Rob Anderson. “Priorities are important, and years from now it won’t matter about the wins and losses or our basketball successes. But the world may be different because of the role we played in the life of a child.”
By focusing on the best experience for the youth, the Team Achieve program can also significantly inspire families, student athletes, universities/colleges and communities.
Team Achieve youths are drafted and become official members of the varsity team from draft day through their high school graduation. They join the athletic team and the student athletes join the young person’s support team.
Rorke’s mother Jennifer Howard said she has already noticed the impact the program is having on her daughter.
“We came to the first practice and it started right then. She loves basketball and she really does need the team socializing. I think it will help push her into her future,” Howard said. “She’s totally pumped about it. This is a huge opportunity for her.”
“Varsity sports bring people together to reach a common goal,” said Brock women’s basketball community liaison Dayna Howlett.” This goal is not always about winning, it’s about developing and growing as individuals and as a group. We are creating an opportunity to share this power of team with others, in the hopes that the lives of everyone involved may be improved.”
Community Living St. Catharines is an excellent partner for Team Achieve Canada as their mission is to help people with intellectual disabilities have the opportunity to participate in all elements of living in the community. Their vision is to have everyone accepted for who they are, celebrated, supported and recognized as equally valued members of the community.
“Community Living St Catharines is thrilled to be part of this amazing partnership between Brock University and Team Achieve Canada,” said Director of Director Community Support Services Susan Fielding-York. “Inspiring possibilities for the people we support has been our focus for more than 60 years and we are grateful for this opportunity to turn our mission into action. We wish Emily good luck as she embarks on this incredible journey.”
Brock University is launching the Team Achieve program in Canada, and the women’s basketball team is the first varsity team to draft a Team Achieve youth.