Mercy Home’s IIAA basketball team, the Mustangs, took home the state championship at the University of Illinois after a successful season in the league.
The Illinois Inter-Agency Athletic Association provides young men and women in residential treatment programs like Mercy Home to compete in various sports and recreation activities. A number of our young men participated throughout the season, with 11 playing during the championship round.
In order to participate in the basketball league, our young men had to have both good grades and good behavior consistently throughout the previous week. Practices were held three times weekly. The league gives our kids a chance to learn teamwork and sportsmanship, as well as play a fun sport.
Coworkers Nyah Griffin, Rhonda Murrell, Grace Corridoni, Rob Simpson, and Kevin Crawford served as coaches for the young men.
As the majority of the young men participating had never played organized basketball, or even any team sport before joining the league, the season could have been a challenge. But as the weeks went on, they learned to work together, Griffin said, despite many of the boys being new to Mercy Home and not knowing each other well before the season began.
“In the end they pulled it out, even when no one thought they could,” Murrell said.
“They came a long way and put in a lot of effort,” Corridoni added, echoing Murell’s sentiments.
And when it came time to play the final game for the championship, the coaches didn’t tell the boys that it was the final game to win it all until it was nearly over. But when they realized they had won not only their game, but also the state championship, they were astonished by the feat they had achieved.
“They were excited the rest of the day,” Griffin said.
Congratulations to our young men for another successful season and a well-deserved win!