Unified Soccer wins two of three
On a day charged with emotion and energy, the Quincy Jacks’ Unified Soccer team welcomed another season of games with a round-robin tournament at Jaycee Stadium April 14.
The Jacks took two games out of three, beating two teams from Moses Lake and losing to Ephrata in their finale.
Nevertheless, judging from the smiles, the hugs, the cheering and the all-around good time, the loss didn’t sting too much, even if it was to the supposed archrivals.
Unified Soccer teams from as far as Sunnyside showed up for the round-robin tournament, which lasted close to three hours, with each game running about 20 minutes.
Unified Soccer teams up able-bodied players, referred to as partners, with intellectually challenged players, referred to as athletes.
Quincy’s team presented a mix of new faces, such as partner Stacia Sarty and athlete Alex Gutierrez with team veterans such as athletes Jazmine Estrada and Roberto Mirelles and partner Brenda Salgado.
Even vets like Mirelles showed up with new tricks up his sleeve. Mirelles celebrated one of his goals with a somersault.
With athletic director and former Unified Soccer assistant coach Kaycie Tuttle watching from the sidelines, the players enjoyed a big-time atmosphere complete with cheerleaders and Jack, the mascot.
Sarty, a varsity golfer for Quincy, said she wants to work with students with special needs when she graduates college, so participating in the Unified Soccer team is a great learning opportunity for her.
“Learning how to be the team player I need to be (meant) a lot of new experiences,” Sarty said. “But I love it now that I’m here. It’s amazing.”
Becoming a leader was also a new experience for Sarty, she said. Conversely, fellow partner Salgado is on her second year with the team.
“I enjoyed it last year, cooperating with the team, helping others become even better, and that made me want to join again,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see new people.”
Salgado said people wanting to become partners need to be ready to bring patience and understanding. Athletes will not listen all the time and they will make mistakes, Salgado said.
Helping correct the mistakes are longtime coach Theresa Sawyer and her assistant Dayana Ruiz.
“I believe these players deserve the same opportunity to be part of their school athletics, to have that experience of being on a team,” Ruiz said. She then added, “That’s what I miss from high school and to be able to provide it for them is amazing.”
By Sebastian Moraga, firstname.lastname@example.org