United Track and Field is a school sport that allows high school students with and without intellectual disabilities to collectively represent their high school in the IHSAA sanctioned activity of track and field. It unites kids with and without special needs and allows them to compete and participate in a varsity sport.
“I joined the Unified Track team this year because I was in peer tutoring class and the teachers were always talking about how fun practices and the meets were,” senior Kenneth Jordan said.
The student athletes aid each other in certain events as they compete against other schools.
“I participate in shot put and the 4-by-100 meter relay” senior Lauryn Scheske said. “The coaches like to give everyone an opportunity to do each event so the relay teams have been different every time, but for shot put, my partner athletes are usually Will Spilker and Noah Smith and they’re awesome.”
Meets are known for having an energetic and encouraging, yet still competitive atmosphere.
“My favorite part of unified track is when one of our kids win their race,” sophomore Ava Bacon said. “The look on their face makes everything worth it.”
The athletes practice twice a week and have one meet most weeks. While the season is less of a time commitment than most other school sports, the athletes still share many memories.
“The bus rides have been the best,” senior Caitlin Kane said. “No matter whether we win or lose the excitement on that bus is out of this world.”
Ultimately, the biggest goal of Unified Track and Field is to promote inclusion and celebrate the different characteristics and strengths within our student body in order to reach success.
“Unified Track has taught me so much more about inclusion. Not only are we supporting our athletes, but we are running along side them and competing with them,” Scheske said. “Win or lose a meet, we are still running towards the ultimate goal of no one being left out; everyone is free to participate and feel included.” Story by Jennifer Turock. Photo contributed by HSE Royals Athletics.