Unified Track team aims to parallel varsity sports

By creating a similar environment to varsity sports, Soudertons Unified Track team gives special-education students the opportunity to learn and improve as a typical high school athlete would.


To give special education students the opportunity to participate in a high school sport, Souderton’s Unified Track program aims to create a program to provide the same experiences as varsity sports.
The Unified Track team is not like other Special Olympic sports. They do not have general-education students helping out special education students, but gen-ed and special-ed students competing together as athletes. Co-coach Bryan Fagan works with the team to create an environment very similar to varsity sports.
“Unified Track follows most of the same rules as the varsity track teams, we just have some modifications to meet the varying needs of some of our team members,” Fagan said.
The team doesn’t only interact at practices and meets but in school, too.
Unified Track athletes are able to create a friendship in practice that carries over into the real world. “We went from introducing them to each other, to now, where we have students stopping each other in the hallways and having normal, everyday conversations,” Fagan said.
For the athletes in the Unified Track program, meeting new people is crucial to team chemistry. Sophomore Sean Resnick agrees. “One of the best parts of unified track is making new friends and just being able to enjoy it,” Resnick said.
According to Fagan, the main reason he jumped in as a coach was because from a young age he noticed that people with disabilities have “a lot more abilities than we perceive.” Creating a program that gave special-ed students the opportunity to compete with gen-ed students is something the coaches and athletes find special.
Freshman Brandon Rodriguez is grateful for the opportunity provided by Souderton. “What I really like about Unified Track is being able to do long jump,” Rodriguez said.
Souderton’s Unified Track team has practice two times a week, every week.
Throughout the practices, the athletes work on developing their skills for the event they run. Fagan said that all of the athletes are improving themselves, encouraging and helping others also.
“We are all working to improve our track times, distances and we are all working together at meets to compete like the varsity track team does,” Fagan said.
Another important aspect of Unified Track for athletes is being able to hang out with friends two to three times a week.
Freshmen Eathan Simkins and Abigail Hays both believe that having the chance to hang out with your friends and play a sport after school is very important to the enjoyment of the athletes.
“It is a team, Tommy Doughty, who graduated in 2019 or 2020 at one point was giving a pep talk to the team and he described it perfectly: saying “Guys we are not just a team, we are a family.” So we work on building that culture as a team like varsity sports do to create that family mentality,” Fagan said.