The BCHS Unified Track Team made history by competing in its first meet at Columbus East High School, April 17.
According to the IHSAA, a unified track team allows “high school students with and without intellectual disabilities to collectively represent their high school in an IHSAA sanctioned activity by participating together on a Unified Sports team.” The Unified Track team at BCHS is comprised of six athletes; Connor Lehman, Paige Moore, Rachel Myers, Mica Selby, Rodney Walls, and Maya Wilkerson. Kristen Sample and Barb Kelp, the special needs teachers at BCIS and BCHS, coach the team.
At the meet, the athletes participated in the long jump, the shot put, the 100-meter dash, and the 400-meter dash.
“If the students were not limited to four events, we would have been in everything,” Kelp stated. “We really wanted to do the relay, but we didn’t want to give up another event.”
The unified track team offers a unique opportunity for the special needs community to experience high school as every other student does.
“For most of these students, this is the first IHSAA event they have participated in… to be able to do that is amazing in of itself,” Kelp commented.
The spirit of the competition, however, is what Kelp feels is the most impactful aspect of Unified Track.
“Columbus East cheered for us, we cheered for them. Although we are ‘competing’ we aren’t really competing among each other as much as competing with ourselves to achieve our personal best. We focus on improvement.”
Several of the BCHS unified athletes placed at the meet. Connor Lehman placed first in the 400-meter dash, the longest and most enduring event at the competition. Lehman stated that when he stepped off the track “it was a dream come true.”
BCHS Unified Track plans to attend three more meets throughout the remainder of the school year. Their first home meet is on April 30 at 5:00 at the Brown County High School track.