Unified Sports Thrives at Wheat Ridge


By Corey O’Leary

For the second year at Wheat Ridge, the Unified sports program continues, giving many students unique opportunities to take part in a program that prides itself in bringing two different communities together.

The Unified Sports program is a one that relies on student partners and student athletes to team up and assemble a team that creates an opportunity for special needs students to play various sports against other schools that also participate in the Unified Sports program.

Head coach RJ Trione and the the Unified sports team have started their basketball season at Wheat Ridge with the team’s current record being 2-1. Recently winning their past game, special programs teacher Brian Deeds expressed his satisfaction in growth and benefits of the program, stating the biggest success so far has been, “The amount of support Unified Sports gets from both students with and without disabilities.”

Deeds notes the increased interest among students to become partners which has led to a group of 30 Wheat Ridge students who are involved in the program.

Coach and English teacher, Alison Murphy explains the relationship between athletes and partners saying, “My biggest success is when the partners come to me and ask, ‘what are we going to next?’ because they don’t want to not see these guys every single week.”

The next home game will take place  on February 17th and will also mark the end of their season.

The perfectly apt title Unified Sports conveys both of the aspects of the program. While a platform to participate in sports, much of the excitement of the program has been around the fact that there is now a way for two communities in Wheat Ridge that don’t often get a chance to overlap a chance to unite and present opportunities for new friendships and bonds to be made. While certainly exciting to watch, what stuck with me about watching the latest unified basketball sports game was the atmosphere. The abundance of smiles, teamwork and sportsmanship was incredibly impressive, surpassing the feeling of just watching two teams play against each other to becoming one of viewing a harmonious community. I could immediately see the virtues of the program, a program that is currently thriving at Wheat Ridge due to the support of our students.