Choose to include

Wildcats take on Patriots in annual Unified game


Photo by Ally Stoneburner

Pretending to rip open his shirt like Superman, sophomore Nicklaus Wright cheers himself on as he gets his name announced for the unified game. Wright had just finished cheering on his fellow classmates during the buddy game and was ready for his turn to play. “We played really well because we practiced very hard before our game,” Wright said. “We made sure we were ready to play and have fun before the game.”

Riley Kramolisch, Staff Reporter

On Oct. 4, a warm sunny Monday afternoon, the Millard West unified program held their third annual softball game. With the help of the Millard West softball team, the Unified program played a buddy game, where they had a partner hit and field with them followed by a competitive softball game against the Millard South Unified team.

The softball team brought in pizza and snacks for the athletes to enjoy for lunch prior to their game. The players got to warm up and get to know their buddies before getting their names announced and taking the field.

The Patriots were on the offensive side first while the Wildcats took the field. Then after every athlete had the opportunity to hit, the two teams switched offense and defense. In this game the athletes hit a ball off a tee and go through the entire batting lineup in one inning to make sure everyone had the opportunity to hit.

After the buddy game, the other Unified athletes prepared themselves for the competitive game. In this game the athletes were pitched a softball from the pitcher’s mound and played the game defensively and offensively the same as regular softball. This game was meant to bring out the competition between these athletes. Throughout the game many athletes dominated in the field and at the plate. There were multiple home runs hit by the Patriots but the Wildcats competed until the very end. Unfortunately, the Wildcats fell short of the Patriots 10-2, but felt accomplished with having the honor of including everyone. 

“In the early stages of unified sports, Millard South was the only other program in Millard that was able and willing to compete in these competitions,” ACP teacher Brett Siepker said. “Playing in the Unified game is really the highlight of the athletes’ year because they get to be front and center with their peers and family in attendance.”

Organizing the game this year was quite a challenge since it hadn’t been played in three years, but with the help of the softball team the games went on smoothly. The girls were more than willing to help out and get involved with the unified program. Junior Claire Besancon got to participate in the buddy game for the first time and gave the athletes a fulfilling experience.

“I participated in order to give the kids the same opportunity I have, as well as just to make them happy and be able to compete against our neighboring school,” Beasancon said. “It was really nice to see all the smiles and have everyone enjoy it at the same time.”

Choosing to include is a big part of the Unified program, and for sophomore Nicklaus Wright getting the chance to play softball was an incredible experience. Playing alongside the other unified athletes and the softball team, Wright learned more about the game itself. 

“We practiced hard for about two weeks before the game,” Wright said. “I wanted to participate in the Unified game because I wanted to have lots of fun with my friend and have good sportsmanship.”

Being a part of the unified programs gives athletes many opportunities to build a stronger relationship with others and with the sports. Junior Taylor Morrison participated in the competitive game this year and got to experience what it was like to work with all the athletes in a new setting.

“I wanted to participate in the Unified game because It is important to me that no matter your ability, everyone feels included,” Morrison said. “I had so much fun participating in the game and I feel like I built stronger connections with other students.”

Although the game did not result in the Wildcat’s favor, they didn’t walk away with nothing. There was a medal ceremony after the competitive game where the Wildcats were awarded with silver medals and the Patriots were awarded with gold. The overall outcome of the two games brought more attention to the Unified program and will reach a broader audience.