Special Olympics gears up for their soccer season

Video by Ben Weiss

The unified soccer team has hit the ground running this season. The athletes had their first practices last week with students mostly from Best Buddies and Peer Partners. Unlike other Special Olympic sports, Unified Soccer has the athletes and their peer partners playing alongside each other.

“There’s two teams and then there’s peer partners that come out,” said sophomore and Special Olympics athlete Thomas McCabe.

Excitement abounds for this season. After four weeks of practice, the team is attending the Northern Regional Tournament on Oct. 8, held at Homewood-Flossmoor High School. “It’s good competition, the athletes love it because they get to meet new people and get to play as well, which is their favorite thing,” senior and member of Best Buddies Lyndsey Zak said.

The unified soccer season is one of the Special Olympics program’s favorite parts of the year. “I think that it’s definitely a combined effort from both the athletes and us peers. Some of these athletes know how to play soccer better than me, so I definitely learn things from them just as much as I can show them, so I think it’s a team effort,” Zak said.

Assistant coach Bogacki is proud of all the students involved. “We’ve had such a supportive group of kids that are really interested in seeing this program thrive here. They help to take ownership of it, which is really cool,” Bogacki said.