When it comes to the game of basketball, members of the Hastings Special Olympics hoops teams wear their passion on their jerseys.
What are their favorite aspects of the sport?
"Three pointers," said 19-year-old Austin Wengler.
"That you get to play different people," said Stephanie Stevens.
And, after a long pause, Tiffanie Stevens sums it up: "Everything."
These three passionate players will be among 24 special athletes representing five teams from the Hastings area Special Olympics program who will compete in the state basketball tournament at the Special Olympics of Nebraska Spring Games today at the Abbott Sports Complex in Lincoln.
The teams have been practicing weekly since the beginning of November to prepare for the state tournament, which is a year-long source of excitement for all of the athletes. The two Hastings area teams — Hastings Tigers (school age) and Hastings Wildcats (adult)—placed first and second, respectively, at the west central regional basketball meet at the end of February.
"All of our athletes love the game and are so excited to go to state together," said Karen Overfield, activities director and head of delegations for the Hastings School Age Special Olympics Team.