Goshen News 3/9/23

BRISTOL — Smiles were to be had on everyone’s face inside Bristol Elementary School Wednesday as the ADEC basketball team, named the “Silver Bullets”, returned after a near-four-year hiatus.

More than 70 members of the ADEC community signed up to be part of the team, which hasn’t played since 2019 due to COVID-related issues. The team plans on playing games each Wednesday for the next 12 weeks, only taking April 5 off due to spring break. The final game will be May 31, with most of the games taking place at Bristol Elementary.

“It’s just about giving our clients that sense of community,” ADEC’s Assistant Director of Residential Operations Stephanie Wilmore said. “Getting to be around their peers, getting to have fun, get some exercise. It’s all the buzz; it’s all we talk about. It just feels good for the first time in a long time to really be able to look forward to something and have that energy around the building.”

Numerous volunteers from the area are helping as well, including plenty of employees from Grand Design RV. The Middlebury-based company sponsors the Bullets’ jerseys for the season and had enough volunteers to field five of the 11 opponents for the ADEC team in the coming weeks.

“It’s so exciting,” Karen Green, who’s Customer Experience Rally Coordinator at Grand Design, said. “Our team members were so excited — that’s why we have so many signed up to play. They really believe in it. They love basketball, and they love the community. Our team members are just so generous as well. It’s great to see. It warms my heart for both sides.”

Wilmore has worked with ADEC for 18 months. While her official title is Assistant Director of Residential Operations, she’s also a liaison with the self-advocate program within the company. When the idea was discussed with bringing back the basketball team, it was met with universal approval.

“When I first joined the ADEC team, all I heard was the buzz of, ‘when are we going to play basketball again? We miss basketball,’” Wilmore said. “With COVID, it’s just been really difficult to get out and do things, just for safety concerns. Once we realized that we were in the clear, several of our clients asked if we could start moving on this.

“We didn’t expect things to move as fast as they did, but we have such a great community around us. The idea was sparked, and within a week, we had a sponsor and we had the schedule set up.”

Per Wilmore, the team played every season from 2003-2019. The pandemic then caused the 2020-2022 seasons to be canceled.

All of the players on the court were excited to be back out and playing again.

“I love getting to play basketball with my friends,” Tony Hall, 52, said. “It’s cool. The last time we played, we didn’t have this many people here.”

“Basketball is my favorite sport,” Darius Williams, 33, added. “I’ve been playing it for about 17 years. I hit ‘3’s’. I get into my rhythm and make them.”

Another player, Kim Bessent, 41, added, “I’m a basketball champ. I like being able to make shots in the corner, then run down to the other corner and make another shot.”

The games are played in seven-minute intervals. After each period, new ADEC players will take the court until all that want to play in the game have. There is a halftime as well, which is when concessions are provided for everyone.

“(The players) wanted snacks, and they also wanted to make sure that we played the national anthem at the beginning because that’s what we do in sports,” Wilmore said. “We wanted to make sure we’re doing that for them.”

Games will start at 6 p.m. each week and end around 8 p.m.

Austin Hough can be reached at [email protected] or at 574-538-2360. Follow him on Twitter at @AustinHoughTGN.