Unified track is a program that started state-wide last year. Then, there were only 13 other schools that participated in the program. Now there are 51 other schools, with all 4 county schools joining as well. This year there is greater competition, but also an even better opportunity for schools and students to come together.
Unified track will have a call-out some time after spring break. They will begin 3-day practices per week shortly after that.
Mr. Joest is the the coach of unified track along with assistant coaches, Kirsten Koontz, Kim Patterson, and Dan Byrn, who all serve as aids in the special education room as well.
Mr. Joest said that unified track has a great design. The program allows students who are not traditionally involved to be included. A special needs student is paired with another student and they compete together in various events.
Unlike varsity track, there are only 5 events: the 100, 400, 4×1, long jump, and shot put. The points are scored differently as well. Regardless of skill, everyone just tries their hardest and will still have a chance at winning.
For Mr. Joest, this is more than just a sport. This year will be especially special for him, because he has a little brother named John who has Down Syndrome. John is a Freshman at Carmel, and so he will see him competing at some track meets.
Jamila Abu-Omar ’15 is a member of Best Buddies and was in unified track last year. She is joining again this year and said that her favorite part were the people she met and the friendships she gained from it.
Megan Connell ’15, who was the manager of the team also said that it was an awesome experience. As the manager, she helped out a lot with setting everything up and planning fundraisers such as the walkathon held last year.
Last year, the team won sectionals.
Michael Zoltowski, a professional photographer, said,” Everyone wanted a picture with the trophy, it was amazing.” Zoltowski also has a son Michael, who participated in unified track last year.
Federico Romero, who competed in events such as the 100 and 400, was a big member of the team. He said really loved the experience and plans to join again this year. His favorite part was running for West Side.