Unified Teams from UND and NDSU Square Off on the Hardwood

Game was the third meeting in the Special Olympics "rivalry series" sponsored by ESPN

FARGO, N.D. — With many screaming fans in attendance, the UND Fighting Hawks and NDSU Bison battled for every rebound and drilled many shots.

However, today’s game was more significant than the score on the board.

“It demonstrates that although a person has an intellectual disability, when it comes to the vehicle of sport, everybody becomes the same. Nobody likes to lose, fouls are called the same way, we shoot the same way,” said Kathy Meagher, the President and CEO of Special Olympics of North Dakota.

Both of the teams represent the Unified Sports Program, which is sponsored by the Special Olympics of North Dakota.

The meeting between UND and NDSU is actually one of ten games nationwide under the rivalry program sponsored by ESPN.

This year’s game marked the third meeting between the two schools, which continues to foster a friendly rivalry between UND and NDSU.

On the court, it was business as usual for the athletes.

The crowd went wild with every made basket.

“Unbelievable. It’s so cool,” said Baylee Bjodie, one of the athletes from the University of North Dakota.

“I get really fired up. It feels great and amazing,” said Jacob Barbeau, another athlete from the University of North Dakota.

Even though the Fighting Hawks came away victorious, the true outcome of today’s game went beyond the box score.

“Being able to have these two teams unifying together. Everyone’s just kind of here to have fun, play some basketball, and just kind of enjoy the sport, enjoy each other, and enjoy being active,” said Nick Foertsch, the coach for the North Dakota State unified team.

Today’s event is not the only unified athletic battle between the Fighting Hawks and Bison.

The two sides also play a flag football game, which will be held later this year.

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