By Jase Jones, Reporter
The Senior High Track program has a place for everyone on its teams. Most schools have a boys and girls team, GISH also has a unified team.
A Unified sports team is one that aims to include students with disabilities and students without. Unified Sports include any student that wants to participate.
The reality of high school sports is that not everyone can be on the varsity team, unified teams allow for all athletes to get the chance to have fun and meet new people, regardless of having a disability or skill level. Unified Track can help people new to a sport get used to it without worrying too much about making a certain team or being cut.
Due to the different groupings on the team, the events are done in partner groups.These partner groups are made up of one student with a disability, and one student without. This is to encourage the athletes to meet new people and try to understand how people’s differences can be advantageous and how to connect despite their differences. For example, during the 100-meter dash one partner will run first. After they finish, the second partner will run, the two times are then added together and that is how the winner is judged.
The rest of the events follow this same idea: During the triple jump the distance of the two partners is added together and that is how the winner is chosen. During the 4×100 meter relays, the first partner runs, then the second, then that repeats again. The times of these four runs is added for the total time.
The goal of Unified Sports is to allow all students to be able to participate in a team sport and enjoy the benefits of friendly competition. The athletes get the opportunity to interact with people that are different from themselves: this opens their eyes to how other students feel and the difficulties that they face. The athletes will often realize they have more in common than they might think.
One athlete who participated in Unified Track, Eliot Ernstmeyer, couldn’t speak more highly of the experience.
Ernstmeyer said, “Being a part of the Unified Track team was a very unique experience. I was able to interact with students who I had never even seen around school before, I really feel that more people should give Unified Sports a try.”