Reagan Special Olympian, manager suits up, scores
Celeste Curiel was the star for Reagan’s girls basketball team for Senior Night on Friday at Littleton Gym.
Curiel, who has autism and serves as a manager for the Rattlers, got to suit up and play against Roosevelt on Friday. Reagan controlled the opening tip and passed to Curiel, who was set up by the basketball. She scored a layup to account for the game’s first points. She also recorded a steal on the next possession.
“This girl is an amazing kid,” Reagan coach Selena Winbush said. “She’s overcome so much, and she’s grown so much over the last year. It was amazing to see.”
Curiel is not a basketball novice. She plays the sport for Reagan in Special Olympics. Winbush said she got the idea to play Curiel about a month ago after a Reagan loss. Winbush noticed Curiel had kept a high-energy level as she encouraged the team from the bench. That’s when Winbush asked her if she wanted to play.
“She was jumping up and down,” Winbush said. “She was completely involved in the game.”
After Curiel’s mother, Kim, gave the approval, she contacted Roosevelt coach Robert Rheinberger about having her play in their game on Friday. Rheinberger agreed and Winbush set up a play from the opening tip for Curiel. She left the court shortly after that to the delight of her teammates and coaches who offered plenty of high-fives as she took her seat.
“I was emotional watching her,” Winbush said. “My heart was pumping, and I was so excited for her.”