Fun and games for Marblehead Unified hoops

Jeremy Bunnell eyes the basket. Photo by Spenser Hasak

The Marblehead Unified basketball team went head-to-head with Beverly in an exciting matchup featuring great basketball – and a lot of fun. In the end, it was Beverly who came out on top, 36-26.

Despite the loss, coaches Sara Roberge and Tracey Lichtig were all smiles postgame. 

“We love playing Beverly. They have a great program and it’s always so much fun,” Roberge said. “Specifically, this group, they bring a great attitude and it’s the best.” 

Roberge said having more practice time has benefited the team, and can see improvement from each player. 

“We’ve had a lot more practice this year. We get to practice during the school day, which is better for everyone,” Roberge said. “It’s better to schedule gym space when no one is using it. We’ve definitely seen improvement on the court because of it. Kids are more comfortable and our buddies are a lot more acclimated to how Unified works, so it’s wonderful.” 

Marblehead Unified basketball’s Katelyn Cuzner gives coaches Sara Roberge, left, and Tracey Lichtig a hug after their game against Beverly.

Roberge is familiar with Unified, as she was a part of the program during high school. 

“I’ve been coaching for three years at Marblehead,” Roberge said. “I did Unified when I was in high school, so I knew how important it was. So, I said yes when my peer leader told me that Marblehead needed a coach.”

For Lichtig, she’s been enjoying seeing the team’s excitement.

“I’ve been coaching Unified for five years now,” Lichtig said. “The excitement you see from everyone, whether it’s in practice or the games, it’s something they look forward to.”

Throughout the game, members of the Marblehead community trickled in to watch and support. From the football team to the girls soccer team, everyone was cheering players on.

“We have a lot of peer leaders who are involved in this, and I think our school community is wonderful to all students,” Roberge said. “Equity and inclusion in our school student body is unbelievable.” 

Other than playing basketball, Roberge enjoys the way kids connect with not only their teammates, but their opponents. 

Genevieve Rogers shoots the ball.

“It’s the way the kids connect with one another, both on the team and with other students from other schools, it’s the friendship they create,” Roberge said. “It’s so much fun to see the same faces year after year. Many of our kids do Best Buddies, so they work with other schools. It’s the best.” 

Win or lose, Marblehead continues to make the most of every situation, including bus rides home.

“I think when you see kids getting better as the season goes on, from hitting more baskets or getting more rebounds, that’s just what is the best,” Roberge said. “Our bus rides home are the best. They’re all smiling. There’s a lot of singing and a lot of team building.”