Through pandemic Unified Track maintains safe, inclusive environment

The Unified Track team has kicked off their season in the most normal way possible. Although the Unified Bocce Season was cut due to COVID-19 concerns, head coach, Brian Fagan and his team are determined to have the best season possible this year.


**Leaping into the win…***Diving into the sand during the long jump, sophomore Lauren McClure makes her jump towards gaining points for Souderton. The virtual track meet took place on April 22.* *Arrowhead photo by AnnE Potter*

Choosing to include is something that the high school is best known for, according to freshman Emma Potter. She believes that the Unified Track team represents that best.
Athletes and partner athletes both participate in the sport and junior Hannah Lavery stresses the importance of that while practicing.
“We stress inclusiveness and make sure it isn’t I am just here to watch you,” Lavery said.
Both athletes and partners run, practice field events and create memorable friendships as equals. The Unified Track team is unique due to the fact that they do not hold tryouts like other varsity teams. They let everyone sign up and they grow in their own ways no matter who you are.
“I love the fact that they work hard and can maintain a team culture from the beginning,”
Fagan said. “It has always been friendship first and teammates pushing each other to do their best.”
The bonding with other schools that share the same passion of Unified is something that is lacking this year due to the pandemic. In previous years, the track meets were usually held in person and are now all virtual. For some, it has been a hard adjustment.
“I miss being able to meet people from other schools who share the same love for Unified as us,” Lavery said.
Unlike other varsity sports, when Souderton is going up against other schools, it is a competition but also a time to bond with other schools and get to know each other.
This year, the way the track meets are being run is much different compared to other sports teams.
The team brings in an official from the South Eastern Pennsylvania Special Olympics organization, but that is the closest they get to a normal meet. They will line up and run on the track field, but the team may only have one Souderton athlete in a race.
Senior Lindsey Coll misses the togetherness that they would normally have throughout the seasons. Making new friends is the major thing that is found while joining the team,
“I love working with the kids and the friends I have made through the program,” Coll said.
This season looks different compared to others like all other varsity sports. COVID-19 has made its mark on the team due to the fact that some athletes have respiratory issues, which means they are at a high risk for COVID-19.
“A lot of it is that we need to be as conscious as possible compared to other varsity sports which is needed,” Lavery said. “We have to keep them more safe.”
Coll expresses the same concerns and takes the steps to prevent it as much as possible,
“We do masks and social distancing. I wipe down the equipment,” Coll said.
The track team season is reasonably much more stressful compared to other varsity sports.
“Unified has definitely had a lot on their plates because of not knowing how partner athletes will react if they contract the virus is scary,” Potter said, “but we know that as long as we are safe as possible, it is still a very memorable and enjoyable experience.”