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Finishing an "impactful" inaugural season, Lyons Lions Unified Basketball is here to stay

MAY 24, 2023 – While winter across the Finger Lakes region may send many into hibernation mode, in Lyons winter is the most heart-pumping season of all: basketball season. But followers of all things Lions Athletics may have noticed basketball trickling into the spring season this year.

Spring 2023 brought with it the first ever season of Lyons Lions Unified Basketball. The LCSD Board of Education and administration had heard about the program from Lyons MS/HS physical education teacher and Varsity Volleyball Coach Bethany Bowe and jumped at the chance to offer the new opportunity to LHS students.

So, what is Unified Sports? “It’s in conjunction with the Special Olympics, we follow the Special Olympics rules to basketball,” says Lyons Unified Basketball Coach Eric Kuhn.

According to, the Unified league “joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team” in order to foster understanding and friendship. “We’re easily the smallest school in Section V doing it,” adds Kuhn.

Team Co-Captain and LHS Junior Mackenzie DeParde agrees that the friendships she made were the best part of the season. She says she’ll cherish most the memories made traveling on the bus to away games, then “playing all together and winning all together.”

The team hopes to earn one final win of the season tomorrow, Thursday, May 25th, during a season-culminating event with all Section V teams at Nazareth College. The Lions will be playing at 6:00pm vs. Webster Schroeder, and will also participate in a skills challenge competition.

With the season coming to a close, DeParde is already looking forward to next year and says she will definitely participate as a Senior. To calm the nerves of student athletes interested in joining, she assures, “we’re just having fun out there.”

Anyone who attended a Unified Basketball game in Lyons this season can attest to that, where baskets are met with a roar of cheers and applause from the bleachers and the mood of each game is positive and joyful.

Kuhn notes that the success of the inaugural season has already led to a ton of interest for the Spring 2024 season, which will kick off around Spring Break next April. “I anticipate our team being twice the size next year, just with the amount of kids that have already shown interest….I’ve had a bunch of eighth graders who can’t wait.”

And will the coach be returning? Without a doubt. “It’s really been a great experience, I’ve enjoyed every second of it,” says Kuhn. “It’s something I never thought would be so impactful to me.”