NEWS: Unified Sports Team Hosts Tournament, Wins Awards (WITH SLIDESHOW!)

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By Laura Gonzalez – News Editor

The Unified Sports team’s ninth year at Law has been full of exciting news for its coaches and members.

Head coach and co-founder Mrs. Daniels was named Coach of the Year by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association and the team itself received the Spirit of Life Award from the Special Olympics.

“I didn’t even know [the award] existed so I was very surprised to receive the letter, but I’m excited,” Daniels said.

The Unified Sports team brings together many groups within the school – special education students, regular education peer partners, teachers, and coaches.

“We all work as a cohesive unit and it all works out really well, everyone watches each other’s back … and of course the peer-partners are there to help with training, keeping students on track, and modeling,” Daniels said.

The team members are active all year practicing every Monday and Thursday and competing for their five sports: soccer, basketball, bowling, volleyball, and track. Daniels said they receive amazing support from other athletes during practice and from students and faculty at tournaments.

The Unified Sports team is currently in its basketball and bowling seasons. The team held a five-school basketball tournament on February 19 that featured a large crowd, the Law cheerleaders, and plenty of fun for all involved.

For this year’s athletes, the team is about more than just sports. It is also about having fun, spending time with other people, and getting that extra motivation.

“I like seeing my friends play every day, and I like when people come to cheer me on,” Unified Sports team athlete Jennifer Gill said. “It’s really fun.”

Unified Sports athlete Luigi DeCastro said that “everything and everyone” on the team holds a special place in each athlete’s heart.

“The people involved are my friends, and we have a lot of fun together. It feels good to help out,” said junior Michael Capobianco, a peer-partner for Law’s Unified Sports. “My uncle has Down Syndrome, so this is part of my family. What Unified Sports means to me is not something I can really put into words.”

Law paraprofessional Mr. Hayden said that this “cohesive unit” is extremely proud and grateful to Daniels for all her hard work.

“She’s a nice woman,” Hayden said. “She runs the program really well. My brother loved being a part of Unified Sports and my [one-on-one] student does too, so I really appreciate what she does and how hard she works to set up tournaments and get a good amount of teams to come.”

The Unified Sports team is looking forward to supporting Daniels at the awards banquet this March.

“It’s a well-deserved award, and I’m very proud of her. We are so excited to be there cheering her on when she received her award,” said Law paraprofessional Mrs. Aranda, a seventh-year Unified Sports coach.

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