On Sunday, March 10, Special Olympics Wisconsin (SOWI) athletes from Greater Milwaukee Region 8 competed in the Regional Basketball Tournament at Homestead High School in Mequon. One lucky athlete was met with enthusiastic cheers from some very special fans – the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers Women’s Basketball Team.
Michael Poll, 38, an athlete from North Suburban Agency 8-02, isn’t your average Panther’s fan. In addition to attending many UW-Milwaukee Panthers basketball games, you can often find Poll supporting his favorite team during their weekly practices.
“We consider Michael a member of our Panther family,” said Gina Gonzales, Director of Operations for the UW-Milwaukee’s Panthers Women’s Basketball Athletics. “We attended his game to show appreciation for all that he does for our program.”
Poll’s involvement goes beyond cheering from the bleachers. He lends his own basketball skills to the team by rebounding the ball for players. Poll even stops by the athletic offices to wish the team luck before their games.
The UW-Milwaukee women’s basketball team wanted to return the favor and give Poll the same support. They said they had a great time cheering on Poll and the rest of the SOWI athletes competing in the tournament.
“It is important for our team and others to support Special Olympics athletes because we want to give them the confidence to peruse their life goals,” said Gonzales.