Another astounding sight at a Unified Sports event. Why we love what it stands for.
TORRINGTON: The image is one that will stick with me for a good long time and represents everything great about my favorite activity to cover, Unified Sports.
On Thursday, October 5 on the Robert H Frost Complex turf field, a young lady from Wilby High School, a mentor in the program, was holding hands with her Unified partner and walking slowly across the field during the Naugatuck Valley League soccer event.
The young lady, perhaps 5'6", was leading a young man who was considerably taller than she was with the grace and care that summed up the message of what this astounding program stands for.
On occasion, a ball would head in their direction which they would play off to a teammate before resuming their leisurely stroll across the field on a beautifully sunny afternoon without a care in the world.
That's the beauty and gift of Unified Sports.
For a couple hour a week while they practice together, Unified Sports participants are one.
There are no special need students, just students. Playing a game for the simple and glorious joy that comes when we get down to why sports and communities matter.
This program has not only transformed the participants on the fields they play on but in the classrooms across the region and the hallways of schools who have embraced it.
Torrington High School has become one of those places as their program, under the guidance of former Raiders baseball coach Gerry Carbone, has grown in leaps and bounds.
The number of mentors continues to grow, as does the number of participants who become one with fellow student/athletes and share a smile and a competitive game of either soccer or this winter, basketball.
Every time I write a story on Unified Sports, I smile, as does everyone who is lucky enough to be in attendance and the atmosphere is one that duplicates that of a varsity game, complete with cheerleaders and fans.
The student/athletes enter the facility through a path lined this time with members of the Torrington girl's soccer team and the Raiders football team as well.
It's an all-star entrance fitting the event which consists of timed periods in which mentors and Unified Sports athletes compete together with one big difference between this and a varsity game.
Everybody celebrates success. There are high fives up and down the field from both teams, congratulating the person who may have scored a goal or made a nice stop in goal.
At the end of the competitive portion of the program, the bonus of all bonuses.
It's another great sight to see when the teams spread out on the lawns around the complex and enjoy something as basic as sharing a meal together.
Like I say, if you feel like smiling for a couple hours straight, get to the next Unified Sports event.
Your soul will leave in better shape than when it got there.