SYRACUSE – When Warsaw and Wawasee come together on any playing surface, the bad blood comes out between the two rivals. Friday night the two long-time rivals met at the Hardwood Teepee but the rivalry took a backseat to something else happening on the court.
Once the Warriors and Tigers left the court for a halftime break, the real stars of the night stepped on to their grand stage. The Warrior Leadership Committee (WLC) worked with Kosciusko County Special Olympics to present the Kosciusko County Special Olympics basketball team for halftime entertainment.
Most students can be found roaming the halls or in line at the concession stand during the break, but not Friday night. Both schools had plenty of students in attendance and all stayed in their seats to cheer on the players that came on at break. Some of the loudest cheers of the night came during the halftime game.
It was something that the athletes had been waiting for all day. Courtney Linnemeier, a Wawasee senior who organized the event, said it was really a special experience for everyone that was involved.
“They were so excited before taking the court,” Linnemeier said of the players. “This was a really special experience for them and for us. It makes me happy knowing I can take part in something like this.
“Warsaw and Wawasee are obviously big rivals, there is not much love lost between the two schools, but tonight both communities came together to help us do something great, I think that is awesome.”
Countless people had a hand in the event. All week the WLC was selling shirts for the game. Final numbers are not in, but it is estimated that nearly 100 shirts were sold in total. The Wawasee boys basketball team wore those shirts during pregame warmups. Warsaw Community High School purchased 10 shirts to be thrown to the student section during the game.
The Wawasee girls basketball team helped run a bake sale and raffle during the game. In total, 19 local businesses throughout both the Warsaw and Wawasee communities donated items for the raffle. The Oakwood Resort, Tippecanoe Lake Country Club and Maria’s House of Pancakes provided the grand prizes for the event.
While Linnemeier chaired the event, other members of the WLC helped to run events throughout the night. Those members were Maddie Birch, Taylor Busse, Megan Goralczyk and Kylee Rostochak.
In total the WLC will be able to present Koscisuko Special Olympics with a check for more than $1,200 from Friday night’s efforts alone.