Running better together

LM’s Unified Track team unites runners and promotes a fun and healthy atmosphere.

Photo courtesy of Special Olympics

Track and field is one of the fastest-moving sports in the world. People fill up the stands to see how fast these dedicated athletes can move. From the 100 meter dash to the long jump, there are plenty of events to choose from, and with enough practice, you could even begin to compete at the highest levels. Normally there would be a boys and girls track team, but at LM, there is one more team that is pushing the sport even further. The Unified Track Team is not only a serious track team, but it also gives people with disabilities the opportunity to race other people just like them, while working together and forming strong connections to the athletes who don’t have disabilities.

A sunny afternoon after school is where you would usually find the Unified Track Team practicing. After their warm-up, practice usually begins right away. Unified Track has a lot of events that are also included on the spring track team, such as the 100 meter dash, 400 meter dash, 800 meter run, long jump, shot put, javelin, 4×100 relay, and 4×400 relay. The athletes dedicate themselves entirely, and practice is certainly an impressive sight.  “I really like running. I usually run really fast and really far!” says Declan Brophy ’26, who competes in the 800 meter run. The special thing about running in Unified Track is that everyone encourages each other to try their best. There is no negativity included within the team, which means that you don’t have to feel any kind of pressure. In fact, sometimes athletes even root for the other Unified Track teams competing against LM. Once you join the team, you instantly make a bond. As Saron Mengesha 25 explained, “There are a lot more people like me. I don’t feel like an outcast.” Other athletes have joined the team simply because they want to have some fun. “I like to have fun at Unified Track. I always feel proud of myself when I cross the finish line,” says Aaron Arnold 23, who runs the 100 meter dash.

One of the coaches of the Unified track Team is Coach Samantha Parks. She also has experience coaching the Hatboro Horsham team. When asked what sticks out to her the most while coaching this team, she responded, “Usually, what I find memorable about Unified Track is everyone helping each other out. One example is when everyone cheered for Conor to cross the finish line in the 100 meter dash. It brought tears to my eyes.” She also loves to see the enthusiasm from all of the athletes on the team. “I like the community. I like the sportsmanship of everyone because it really helps other people feel included.”

Recently, the Unified Track team competed in their very first competition of the season at Hatboro Horsham high school against the hosting Mad Hatters and the Wissahickon Trojans. Not only did their relay team crush it, but many of the athletes finished in first place in individual events. Arnold, Ethan Silber ’24, Kyle Glover ’23, Aaron Silber ’26 and a lot more athletes finished their heat of the 100 meter dash in first place. Cees Goswiler ’26 and Christopher Hugg ’24 impressed in their races, while Silber put up the longest jump of the day. Alek Dune ’25 and Glover threw really far in the shot put, and the relay teams, including the 4×100 and 4×400 blew the audience away with their performance. Another aspect of the Unified Track Team is that some individuals and the relay team are competing in the Penn Relays, the biggest track and field event in the country. The 4×100 is really honored to have the chance to compete against the best teams, and hopes to crush the competition.

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