Unified Sports kicks off their annual soccer game

On Tues. April 25, the annual Unified Sports Soccer Game took place at Newbury Park High School against Thousand Oaks and Westlake High School. The event, just as all the other Unified Sports events, focused on the bonding and teamwork between neurotypical club members and students with cognitive disabilities.

Tyson Grimes, senior and president of the club, takes pride in representing a community that does more than what originally meets the eye. “I think that something people think when they think about our club is that it’s just a once a week meeting, but it’s so much more than that. It’s truly a team that is pushing for the goal of a more inclusive environment and being a part of it brings a smile to everyone,” Grimes said.

Within Tuesday’s event, Grimes was kept busy coaching, planning and playing within the soccer game. In past events he has done the same, “For our basketball game in February I served as a coach. The entire unified sports board has put a lot of time and effort into this event and Coach Sammi has put so much heart and soul into every single event all year,” Grimes said.

Similarly, Ariadna Coll Bech, senior and vice president of the club, holds the same perspective about the goals this community strives for. “This club is a very fulfilling and recharging club that allows one to not only help others feel welcomed and loved but also makes oneself feel loved as the smiles and happiness in this club radiate to everyone in the room,” Coll Bech said. The wholesome and inclusive aspects of Unified Sports are what cause it to continue to be such a close knit community of people. “I saw unified sports as another method of getting involved; however now it has become much more than a club, but rather it’s more like a team and family,” Coll Bech said.

Unified Sports events emphasize their inclusivity in ways that everyone notices. NPHS track and football coach, Ryan Hurley, watched the event on Tuesday. “It’s really cool seeing all students competing and having fun together…just seeing everyone out there being inclusive is the most rewarding to me,” Hurley said.

Ultimately, Unified Sports consists of people wanting to make a difference in an environment that isn’t always inclusive. “This club is working toward a goal that is so much larger than just having fun or playing sports, we are trying to make NPHS a better environment for all students regardless of any disabilities,” Grimes said.