Coeur d'Alene High basketball team shares the hardwood with spec - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Coeur d'Alene High basketball team shares the hardwood with special needs students

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COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -

You’d think it’s a Friday night by the crowd size, band, cheerleaders, and the players on the court.

Instead, it’s Wednesday during school at Coeur d’Alene High in the midst of spirit week.

But it’s not about the boy’s varsity basketball team.

Instead, it’s the special needs students who lace up their gym shoes tight to play along side their classmates.

Or if you’re freshman Marissa Villelli, your life dream is coming true.

“It's honestly what it means to be a Viking, it just means that you get to love and care for one another,” Macy Knight, a cheerleader at Coeur d’Alene High School said.

Marissa has Down syndrome.

The cheerleaders took Marissa under their wing, taught her the cheers, even gave her a uniform, pom poms, and a bow all in time for Wednesday’s big game.

In this game, there are no fouls, just fun.

As the players light up the scoreboard, Marissa and her cheer mates aren’t rooting for either team in particular.

Instead, they’re showing that anyone can make an impact.


Marissa’s mom, Susan, couldn’t be prouder.

“As soon as she got those pom poms and she put the outfit on she was ready to go. Seeing her out there with the typical kids is really fun because she knows she has DS but it doesn't hold her back,” Susan Villelli said.

The game is a “warm-up” for Friday’s big game against Lake City High School.

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