When members of the Houston County Sharks received their state championship rings Monday night, they knew they had worked hard to earn them.
Players on the adapted sports program were required to win state titles in three sports in the school year to receive the rings.
In 2008, the Houston County Board of Education approved adding an adapted sports program to offer students with physical disabilities the opportunity to play wheelchair basketball, football and handball, which are sanctioned by the Georgia High School Association, according to a press release from the Houston County Board of Education.
Since 2009, the Houston County program has won 24 state championships including seven straight state basketball championships, according to Beth McLaughlin, director of community & school affairs for Houston County Board of Education.
There currently are ten handball teams, ten football teams and nine basketball teams in Georgia.
“Unlike other coaches that are stuck at one school, we get kids from all over the county,” said Christy Jones, Houston County orthopedic impaired teacher and area coordinator and coach.
“I get to see them develop their skills. The socialization, confidence and the independence they develop is amazing to watch,” Jones said.
All three sports are played on a basketball court with the team practicing twice a week for two hours at Pearl Stephens Elementary.
The games are played at Bonaire Middle School. The team currently consists of 25 players ranging from second grade to twelfth grade.
“I came out the first day and I fell in love,” said Annabelle Putman, a Perry High junior and current Shark player. “It’s fun to go out there and try to do our best.”
Putman has played with the Sharks since the eighth grade.
Anyone interested in joining the Sharks teams can contact Christy Jones at Christy.Jones@hcbe.net