DHS Unified

DHS Unified

Hannah Wills, Reporter

Durango High School’s new Unified Sports Team is bringing the whole school together as they watch and cheer on their fellow students. They participate in basketball competitions between the boys and girls varsity games, where they are supported by the DHS student section.

DHS has recently introduced a new sports team, the Unified Sports Team to the school with hope that it will rise and become a permanent team. DHS principal, Jon Hoerl, brought the idea for this team from previous schools he worked at. Unified Sports are for students with exceptional needs in our school and they provide a way for them to interact with other students as well as make new friends.

Specifically, Grand View expanded their program and helped it grow in way that nobody would realize. Hoerl believes it is the pilot school for unified teams.

Matt Clark, a teacher for the exceptional student services and head coach of the Unified sports team, has also had previous experience with Unified Olympics in Aurora, CO.

“A challenging piece was getting parents interested and wanting their students to participate. The difficult part is for next season, we are trying to get other high schools in the area involved and reaching out,” said Clark.

Hoerl also chose partner athletes to help get this program off the ground and interact with the students in the exceptional students service group. He chose students that he thought would be a good match with the participants.

“I wanted to make sure I had a nice sampling from across different areas. We have softball players, we have theatre members, we have a football player” said Hoerl. He believes it is important to represent all aspects of the school in activities.

The atmosphere at DHS is strong and supporting which allows these students to feel accepted as well as enjoy performing in front the student section. It really brings a lot of light to the program that DHS is trying to start and encourages other schools to want to get involved with the Unified sports program.

Sr. Curtis Salinger, a member of DHS’s Troupe 1096 and also a partner athlete for the students on the Unified Sports Team, believes that the team is a wonderful part of the school atmosphere.

“The students got really into supporting the team especially with kids like Cole who everyone really knows and Isaac and Ashley. I think everyone just enjoys seeing them succeed and just the mission of the unified team,” said Salinger.  

Sr. Joie Raybourn, another partner athlete, also really enjoyed the experience and looks forward to helping out with the team as much as possible.

“The atmosphere was more positive for everyone and everyone seemed really hyped about the game and the students themselves were a lot happier after the games,” said Raybourn.

The students have also enjoyed being a part of this team after participating in mostly practices and playing against the staff. Not only is this an opportunity for them to get out there and show off, but they also get to be on a team with their friends.

Harry Egizio-Hughes and Daniel Ramos, members of the Unified Sports Team both really love being part of the team, but playing in front of a crowd makes Harry a little nervous. Daniel thinks playing in front of a crowd is exciting because he doesn’t have to play with the staff.

So. Jacob Rubidoux believes that the team is extremely exhilarating because it is similar to playing on a real DHS sports team. Being a part of a team helps them to grow close and that it one of Jacob’s favorite pieces of the team.

“It was like playing on an actual team.They are all great players, it is great for sportsmanship and friendship, like Dawson, Nick and all of them, they are my friends,” said Rubidoux.

Next season Hoerl and Clark are both hoping that they will be able to involve other schools as well as begin to include new sports to the Unified team schedule such as soccer or flag football. All in all you can most definitely expect more from the Durango High School Unified Sports Team.

This team is about more than just sports, it highlights the sportsmanship and friendships that they develop with one another as well as with their partner athletes.