Students and staff consider the Unified program to be very important, bringing everybody together in the support of the players. The one day out of the year where the whole school watches Unified play, the gym is loud with no lack of encouragement from the student body. Students have the opportunity to get involved with Unified by coaching the soccer and/or basketball teams which encompasses not only teaching skills but also going to the games and cheering the team on.
As a Unified coach, students are right there with the athletes, guiding them and trying to maintain a positive environment. “A major aspect of Unified is positivity because we don’t focus on the score. Instead we focus on giving every student, from any school, an equal chance at playing and scoring,” said Avery Slaughter, junior.
Becoming a Unified coach is beneficial to both the athletes and peer coaches as relationships are created. Hailey Lauer, junior and Unified coach, said, “The peer coaches create really fulfilling bonds with the athletes they’re with. It helps build connections and relationships with others they normally aren’t around.” Wanting to be with the athletes and gain that experience has brought students out of the bleachers and onto the court.
The student body’s commitment to helping others is evident on whatever field or court Unified plays on. You’ll see student coaches running with the athletes, cheering them on, and leading them the right way. “I think others should consider being a coach because it’s a great experience and there’s never a dull moment. You get to become a part of the team. The smiles and facial expressions show the excitement and joy they have, which is very rewarding,” said Lauer. Becoming a coach is an alternative way to support the Unified team from somewhere other than the sidelines.
Michael de Guzman, Staff reporter