Special Olympics basketball coach John Anderson said the Puyallup High School gymnasium has the ability to seat close to 5,000 fans.
Anderson hopes the east Pierce County residents will fill the bleachers for the third annual “Pack the Gym” Puyallup/Rogers Special Olympics game at 8 p.m. Thursday.
The cost is $1 per person, and all proceeds will benefit the schools’ Special Olympics programs.
The event builds off the momentum following the 2012-13 high school boys and girls basketball seasons.
“Each year, we have this game right after the conclusion of the high school basketball season,” Anderson said. “The Puyallup Vikings girls basketball team had a great year. It’s nice to follow that up with our Special Olympics basketball game in front of the hometown fans.”
Anderson said it’s a rivalry between Puyallup and Rogers.
“Both teams look forward to this game,” he said. “We would love to see 5,000 people come to the game, but if we have a couple of thousand in attendance, that would be just great.”
The game will feature announcers, cheerleaders and boisterous student sections on both sides of the gym. Both teams have been practicing since December in anticipation for the game.
Anderson said bigger crowds help to create more memorable experiences for the athletes who compete.
“This event gives the players on both teams a lot of attention and highlights them,” he said. “Students see our players in the hallways every day, and now they have a chance to cheer them on.
“There is a lot of camaraderie. We’re looking forward to it.”