Every so often, we are reminded of the intrinsic power of athletics. Nowadays, it is a rare occasion on which we are not consumed by the result on a scoreboard or stopwatch, but there are still a few opportunities during which we can truly relish in the purity of sport. Warren High School recently experienced one of those occasions when the Bears’ Unified Track Team faced off against the Trabuco Hills Unified Track Team at a dual meet on Wednesday, March 27.
For the first time, our Bears Unified Athletes donned their brand new uniforms. The team was inundated with overwhelming self-worth and gratification as they wore the Special Olympics Southern California lockup proudly across their chests. What would typically be a dauntingly long trek to South Orange County proved to be an absolutely electric bus ride to the beautiful Trabuco Hills facilities. The energy and enthusiasm in the bus were palpable. As our Unified Athletes took the track for the first time, they were replete with excitement and splendor. Their nervous energy could hardly be contained while coaches struggled to reign in the pace of the first two warm-up laps because the athletes were so eager to race!
As the start of the meet drew near, the two Unified Track Teams came together to celebrate this momentous occasion. They blended seamlessly with one another for a group picture in which opponents and adversaries did not compete rather joined forces to celebrate the camaraderie and friendships that had been forged through sport.
The teams took to the starting line for the first event–the 4×100 relay. As soon as the starter fired the gun, there was a deafening roar from the crowd, and the volume never dwindled until the final runner crossed the finish line. The attention of every varsity athlete on the infield turned toward the efforts of the Unified Athletes on the track. There was a groundswell of support from peers, coaches, staff members, administrators, families, friends, and community members. In that moment, botched hand-offs and crossed lanes ceased to matter; competing with peers and against peers on a team carried a magnitude that is too heavy to encapsulate in print. As the athletes crossed the finish line, hugs were exchanged and celebratory photos were snapped. There was nothing disingenuous about the love, respect, and admiration that these athletes felt toward one another. A pure and unabashed fellowship had formed on that track.
The discipline, commitment, effort, accountability, and heart that are needed in sport were all showcased in each event successfully executed by the Unified Athletes. The THHS Unified Team embraced the Bears, serving as warm and welcome hosts through the entirety of the meet. Both Unified Teams unfailingly epitomized sportsmanship and integrity. This was a victory not defined by winning or losing. This was a victory of inclusion. This was a victory of opportunity. This was a victory earned with honor. Is that not the pinnacle of all high school athletic pursuits? How better to promote the power of athletics than to empower and embolden, motivate and galvanize. This was a proud day for Warren Athletics because this harnessed the authentic and unadulterated power of sport.
Feature Photo: Moises and Isaac
Photo Credits: JT Ayers