RMS Unified Soccer
New this year at Ralston Middle School (RMS) is the formation of a Unified Soccer team. What is Unified Soccer or Unified Sports? Taken from the Special Olympics website, Unified Sports “joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.”
The RMS Unified Soccer team consists of nine athletes and five mentor partners from both the seventh and eighth grades. The athletes and partners train and compete together.
Team Sponsor and RMS Special Education Teacher Anne Heimann says the Unified Soccer team has been a great addition to the middle school. “It allows students to build on each other’s strengths, to see each other as equals. It has helped build a great sense of community.”
The team officially formed in September, practicing every Tuesday after school and playing games each Thursday at Bellevue West High School. Eight other schools are part of the league. The Rams Unified Soccer team is currently undefeated in league play.
For many of the RMS Unified athletes, this is their first experience playing an organized sport. “Many of our Unified athletes were not sure at first about playing, but once they started they love being on the team, practicing, and competing against other schools,” said Heimann. “They have so much fun!”
What Heimann enjoys the most is just watching all the members of the team practice and play together. “To see all the smiles, laughs, and the joy in their faces means so much to me. They play well as a team and cheer each other on!”
“It has been fun learning new things like playing soccer and scoring some goals,” says RMS Unified Athlete Mikeal Lowe. “I love making new friends. My teammates have all been so nice to me.”
For RMS Mentor Partner Athlete Gavin Lopez, being on the Unified Soccer team allows him to further enjoy the sport of soccer while meeting some new friends and learning how to communicate with others. “The best part is playing with others you don’t know and making new friends.”