A Unified player practicing before the game starts. Photo by Ava Houghton

A Unified player practicing before the game starts. Photo by Ava Houghton

Unified Sports has had a large influence on special needs athletes and peers within Chaparral and the community. Throughout the years, they have started up Unified basketball and Unified soccer, but with this new school year comes a new sport: flag football. Chaparral, along with Legend, Thunderidge, and Douglas County High School are participating in a trial season of Unified Flag Football. Coaches Lisa Olofson and Lori Pace have taken this challenge by the horns and quickly pioneered this new sport. Thursday, September 21st, Chaparral players and peers competed against Legend to not only win, but to figure out how the rules need to be regulated. With a competitive spark in every player Olofson knew that this sport would be fun for the players, as well as the peers. “Offering Unified flag football to our school is a wonderful opportunity for our Unified athletes to participate in and be an active part of our Chaparral Family. Our Unified Sports program develops friendships and brings athletes, peers, and our community together,” stated Olofson. They have started this program to offer another sport, which offers more competition for those who want to challenge themselves. They want the athletes to focus on their individual skills by noticing the no running zones and working on their throwing and running. Peer coach Jenna York has worked in the special needs program at Chaparral for two years and since then has become an active peer coach in all of the unified sports. “I think Unified flag football is a good addition because it allows athletes to use different learning techniques because they do have to understand plays and learn how to work as a team,” said York. As this is a well known program, Unified doesn’t get all of the attention it deserves. “Students can help out by coming to the games. The athletes love when their classmates show up to the games and support them. When there is a crowd of fans, it’s a big deal. Students can also tell them how good they did at a game or ask them if they are excited for their next game. It definitely boosts their confidence and makes them so happy,” explained York. Since this is the “trial” season, there are only two more games left. On Tuesday, October 3rd they will be competing away against Douglas County High School at 6 PM and the last game on Monday, October 16 will be at home at 6 PM against ThunderRidge High School. Come and support the Chaparral Unified players on these dates to have fun with friends and to bring awareness to the growing Unified Program.

Story by Ava Houghton

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