Teams from area high schools competed in soccer games at Ingersol Stadium Saturday, April 20, 2019 as part of the Unified Olympia Area League. Partnering with Special Olympics, teams from Olympia, North Thurston, Timberline, River Ridge and Yelm make up the Olympia Area League, giving an opportunity for students in the Unified programs to compete. All teams play each other each week and try to score soccer goals, but the overall goal is to build support and community between the athletes, the partners and the community.
About 1.4 million people worldwide take part in Unified Sports, breaking down stereotypes about people with intellectual disabilities in a positive way, according to Special Olympics. Each team is made up of individuals with intellectual disabilities and partners, those without intellectual disabilities.
North Thurston manager Michela Laverty was excited for the opportunity for both the athletes and partners from her high school to compete. “It is our fifth year playing as a program and the fourth year for the league to run,” stated Laverty. “The connections that the partners and athletes make is really special.”
Fatima Scotto-Rodriguez manages the Yelm team who joined the league this year. “It has been an incredible journey and our players have been phenomenal,” Scotto-Rodriquez remarked. “To see the small daily wins each day is great. Seeing kids get out of their routines and being a part of something is awesome. It is just a win for our school, students, athletes, staff and our community.”
Olympia High school hosted the round robin games. Tamara Liska works with Antonio McClinon for the Olympia Unified teams. “I love Unified. It is a gift to us even more than to the kids. It is invaluable,” stated Liska. “It is just pure joy to be out here and a part of it.”
For more information on how you can support Unified sports in the South Sound area contact Michela Laverty at email@example.com.