Broadmoor Bobcats geared up for another special winter on the basketball court – News-Herald

Lake County’s most successful basketball team in decades is gearing up for another special winter on hardwood.

The Broadmoor Bobcats – students with developmental disabilities – have played on high school teams and community organizations for several decades.

The Bobcats claim to be undefeated in all these seasons and even have a Wall of Defeat in their home gym to hang a jersey on each defeated opponent.

The Broadmoor Bobcats and Mentor Rotary Club celebrate their encounter with a post-game photo following the Bobcats' victory.  (submitted)
The Broadmoor Bobcats and Mentor Rotary Club celebrate their encounter with a post-game photo following the Bobcats’ victory. (submitted photo)

The schedule has been impacted by the pandemic in recent years but Mentor’s Broadmoor School has a near full schedule for this season and manager Sara Jones and her players are ready to take on the rest of the area.

“The Bobcats are excited to begin the 2022-2023 season,” Jones said. “Fridays are an exciting, motivating day at Broadmoor School. Students look forward to playing and engaging with the players.

“The social interaction is so enriching not only for the students at Broadmoor but also for the local high school students that we play against,” she said. “The experience increases awareness of the talents, skills and characteristics of students with disabilities and fosters the inclusion that we hope will remain with all participants as they venture into life.”

The Broadmoor Bobcats are ready to take on their 2022-2023 schedule.  (submitted)
The Broadmoor Bobcats are ready to take on their 2022-2023 schedule. (submitted)

The Bobcats season started with a tryout. The roster consists of 22 varsity players and three junior varsity players. The team also has eight cheerleaders and three mascots who support the team during games.

The season consists of 17 games against local high schools and community groups. The 2022-2023 campaign will conclude with a Bobcats Family Appreciation Night Game and the annual Coaches Game at Mentor High School.

Eastlake North girls basketball coach Paul Force will take the Rangers to Broadmoor on November 4th. Force has been taking his team to play against the Bobcats for almost 15 years and has also been a regular at the Coaches Game at Mentor High.

The veteran coach said it’s an annual experience that’s just as important to his team as it is to the Bobcats.

“We’ve been going to Broadmoor to play the Bobcats since 2008, minus a few years due to COVID-19,” he said. “At North we want to help our young women become good people, good students and good athletes, in that order, and volunteering our time to play the Bobcats and help us at Broadmoor is a tremendous opportunity for the girls.

“Seeing the girls interact and smile, laugh and dance with the students at Broadmoor is an extremely rewarding experience,” he added. “We look forward to being a part of the Bobcats Homecoming Dance this year and helping to make it a fun and memorable experience for them.”

Many other schools in the area have faced the Bobcats over the years, including Mentor, Harvey, Willoughby South, Lake Catholic, and Villa Angela-St. Joseph, just to name a few.

The skills of the players on the Bobcats vary and some are supported by modified equipment. But it’s clear from watching the action at the Home Gym in Broadmoor that there’s a lot more going on than a basketball game.

“The Bobcats benefit so much from being part of a team. Not only are they working to improve their basketball skills, which develops both their gross and fine motor skills, they also have the opportunity to positively interact with their peers,” Jones said. “Every single Bobcat experience is compelling, enriching and empowers the individual to be the best person they can be.”

Jones has been teaching adapted physical education for 19 years. This is her sixth year as coach of the Bobcats, having taken over from Ann Vespa, who founded the team in the ’90’s and is widely revered by Force and many of the area coaches who have contributed during her long and fruitful tenure .

Jones appreciates the fact that off-team students are also included on match days, as the opposition routinely visit classrooms and interact with Broadmoor student body and staff. Her desire is for the experience to transcend time on the basketball court and stay with opposing players long after they leave the gym.

“The Bobcats bring the school community together,” she said. “It also provides an amazing opportunity to invite the community into the school to meet and interact with our students. We hope everyone who participates will share with their friends and family what they have learned and how great the experience has been.”

The Bobcats opened their season by defeating Mentor Rotary Club.

According to a Rotary club press release, Mentor and Willoughby Rotary clubs have long maintained a strong partnership with the Deepwood Foundation and the Lake County Board of Developmental Disabilities/Deepwood as they help enrich, empower, and engage those with developmental disabilities as Rotarians .

“I’ve watched many Broadmoor Bobcats county board games over the years but have never attended one,” said Ann Mahler, assistant superintendent at the Board of Developmental Disabilities and Mentor Rotarian.

“I can’t put into words how it felt to have this opportunity to play with the students and see their joy,” she said. “That kind of experience changes people. I am beyond blessed to work at LCBDD/Deepwood and this opportunity is just one of the reasons why.”

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