The positive impacts of unified sports teams


Jonathan Nixon

Members of the Unified Soccer Team go to defend the ball from the opposing team at Tuesday’s home game. The Unified Soccer Team was very successful in their first game, winning it 15-12 against Alvirne. “I love being able to kick the ball to my teammates,” said Beth Garcia ‘24.

Elise Dinbergs, Co-A&E Editor

At HBHS, there is a unique opportunity available to all students  that many schools across the state don’t have: unified sports. The inclusion of unified sports teams at our school is very beneficial for the HB school community, giving opportunities to the Life Skills kids that are very special to them.This opportunity blends the entire student body together to create a welcoming environment for those wanting to participate in any of the three sports available as unified teams: soccer, basketball, and track and field.

For many students on a unified sports team, a favorite part of participating is the joy of getting  to see their peers and teammates succeed. “It’s a positive thing for the kids to be able to come together,” said Austin Johnson ‘20. He believes that many Life Skills students don’t get the opportunity to interact with their peers on a daily basis, in a classroom setting and this gives them the opportunity to feel comfortable around them. The team isn’t just fun for the student volunteers, but for the athletes as well.

Riley Allard ‘20, one of the competing athletes, enjoys the aspect of going out to dinner after the matches, to eat with her teammates. Just like other sports at the high school level, the unified sports teams hosts games and championship tournaments. However,unlike other sports teams, the point of unified sports teams isn’t to win, but instead, to play as a whole team and to give everyone a fair chance to play, no matter their ability.

“Here at HB, we focus on participation; we’re not here to win championships or games,” said Rebecca Bagtaz, a case manager for the school’s Special Education Department. At HBHS, an emphasis is placed on the unity of the team, over winning, which gives all of the athletes the opportunity to help one another and play.

Unified sports teams allow for the unity of the entire student body and allow everyone to come together, regardless of who they are. If unified sports teams weren’t an option at HBHS, kids in the Life Skills programs wouldn’t be able to interact with their peers in a relaxed setting.