Campus, Eisenhower teams provide a chance to play

James Rohleder of Eisenhower High School celebrates a second-half basket last Friday.

By Travis Mounts 

Friday marked the end of the basketball season for a pair of local teams that have not been in the headlines or the sports pages over the past couple of months.

The Eisenhower Unified Tigers and the Campus Super Colts are a pair of basketball teams that feature special needs students. The teams each played several games, including a head-to-head competition in Haysville on Feb. 24.

The two teams are in slightly different spots. The Super Colts have been around for a few years.

The Tigers are a new program this year. The Goddard School District started a unified bowling team last school year. The district then started unified physical education, led by teacher Brian Watkins. He also coaches the bowling and basketball teams.

The Tigers had a full house last Friday, and their opponents, the Wichita Chisholm High School Tigers, also brought a good crowd. The Tigers started the season without much of a crowd at all, and played five of their six games at home.

“We had a crowd form organically,” Watkins said. 

Chance Crawford of the Campus Super Colts pumps up student body members who came to watch last Friday’s home basketball game against Valley Center.

There was a lot of word of mouth after the first game, and the crowd got a little larger.

“Then kids started skipping class to watch,” Watkins said, adding that some students were even disciplined for skipping class to watch the game.

After talks with administrators, some classes were allowed to attend. And then Eisenhower Middle School students came over to watch.

Watkins did not want to overwhelm the players with a large crowd immediately. Some students could have struggled with the attention or the noise. For Chance Willis, one of the team’s top shooters, the crowd served as a different kind of distraction.

“Everybody would be cheering, but he’d get distracted and miss out on defense,” Watkins said.

But the players adapted, and several were happy to showboat following baskets while getting back on defense.

Watkins said he was disappointed in how students were previously placed in their PE classes. He said it was not anybody’s fault, but he wanted to change things to get students more integrated into their classes. With Goddard serving as the host school for a four-school special education cooperative, there was a push for more inclusion.

Watkins was not patient in the things he wanted to achieve.

“I’m going to ask for forgiveness, not permission,” he said.

Friday was not just about taking the court. There was good basketball going on.

“They really can play. It’s opened some eyes. A cognitive disability doesn’t mean they have a physical disability” he said.

Watkins pointed to former Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, who participated in Special Olympics as a kid. Inclusion is important, especially at an early age. He said the key is to get rid of stigma at an early age.

“Kids can get labeled in pre-kindergarten. Even parents can be scared about their kids being hurt,” he said. “We need to open the possibilities for everybody.

“The kids want to win.”


While the Tigers were playing, and winning, on Friday afternoon, the Campus Super Colts were hosting Valley Center.

The home stands were filled. Hundreds of enthusiastic students were on hand to cheer for the Super Colts. This has become the standard for Campus High.

The Super Colts were started about five years ago, said Dr. Marvin Miller, special education teacher at Campus High. He said the school was actually late to the game, no pun intended. Adapted basketball has been played in the Wichita area for 10 or 15 years.

“We do it big, and that’s the difference,” Miller said.

Teacher Angela Luna got things off the ground in 2019. The COVID year brought a break, but the Colts have since returned to the court.

“We invited the entire student body, and it becomes a big deal,” Miller said. “It has become part of the school culture.”

The crowd was just a bit bigger last Friday. It was senior night. There were posters for all nine of the senior Super Colts, just like for the other basketball teams, wrestling and swimming. The band played again. Channel 060, the student media organization, did a livestream of the game with play-by-play and player interviews.

“A lot of the students are very involved as peers. Students do a lot of the coaching,” Miller said.

Paras Emily Prichard and Amanda Clark do a lot of the organization for the games. Miller gets to be a fan.

It is an inclusive atmosphere. Everybody cheers for everybody, and nobody looks at the score.

The Super Colts are a club team, and to that end do a lot of fundraising. The district is supportive, Miller said.

“We bought our own basketballs. That’s a big thing. They say ‘Super Colts,” he said. “Now we’re collecting for new uniforms. 

Since the Super Colts have started, there has been a change among the student body.

“Our kids are the stars of the school. They walk through and everyone knows them,” he said. “It’s affected the school culture. It’s really made people care about others.”


Back at Eisenhower, Chandayln Robinson had lots of smiles as she watched her son, Caleb. Several moms were sitting together and cheering for the kids.

“It’s so heartwarming that the student body and Eisenhower High School have come to support the kids. They have so much talent,” she said.

Robinson said the players build bonds with each other, too.

“It’s amazing for him (Caleb) to build these friendships. He’s come out socially. It’s opened a door socially for him,” she said. “He has come out of his shell.”

Caleb loves sports, especially football, and has a competitive nature. Many of the other kids do, too. Others are just happy to be on the court. Like the rest of the student body, these players have a wide range of desires and interests.

Most importantly, however, the players have a chance to be recognized by their more normative peers.

“Our kids deserve this, since they can’t do regular sports,” Robinson said.