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Team FDI poses with their Destination Imagination Global Championship trophy. Courtesy photo
Team FDI poses with their Destination Imagination Global Championship trophy. Courtesy photo

By Steve Breazeale

When Dana Point residents Jake Wallin and Jack Rager were looking to put a sports related twist on their most recent Destination Imagination project, the two Dana Hills High School student-athletes turned to one of their favorite sports—basketball.

As part of Destination Imagination, a nationwide nonprofit that uses STEM-based challenges (science, technology, engineering and math) to involve students in their community, Wallin and Rager, along with two other teammates, came up with the Buddy Basketball League, which offers athletic instruction to children with special needs.

“We felt there was a need in the community that needed to be filled,” Wallin said. “Through the years of playing sports at the YMCA, we noticed that often times special needs kids would be integrated into the teams, but wouldn’t be able to play much or flourish as a result.”

The two, as part of Team FDI, set to work and have developed a league where special needs children can come to the gym, learn basic fundamentals and participate in a friendly environment. Players run through 30 minutes of warm up drills and take part in 30 minutes of scrimmages. Each player also receives one-on-one instruction from a local middle school or high school volunteer, which Team FDI helps coordinate.

For their efforts in creating and sustaining the league, Wallin and Rager’s team took the top prize in the Pitch to Play Secondary Level at the 2014 Destination Imagination Global Finals in Knoxville, Tennessee on May 24.

The Buddy Basketball League is currently gearing up for their summer season at the Laguna Niguel YMCA, located at 29831 Crown Valley Parkway, and registration is open. The sessions run from July 13 to August 17. For more information, email

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