Braintree High Student Press

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Braintree High Student Press

Braintree High Student Press

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Braintree’s Unified Track Team Finishes First Season

Braeden+ODoherty+Won+1st+place+in+the+state+in+javelin+in+his+division.
Braeden O’Doherty Won 1st place in the state in javelin in his division.

On May 30th, Braintree’s unified track and field team competed in Natick at the state meet. Unified sports are new this year and are unique compared to other sports here at BHS. They give students in both general and special education an opportunity to compete in sports.

Braintree hasn’t had unified sports before, and a student at BHS saw that the introduction of the team would provide a space where any student could learn sports and feel supported.

“I was volunteering over the summer at the youth track program and I saw kids with and without intellectual disabilities all playing together and having a good time learning a new sport and I was like, ‘this ends at eighth grade and I really think we should have something in the High School that can do the same thing,” said Caitlyn Chang, an athlete on track and field at Braintree.

Chang’s first hand experience at seeing how unified sports could be a positive addition to the athletics at the high school led her to go to co-advisors of the Best Buddies program Julianne Quintilliani and Laura Strickland to push for the introduction of the team.

“She approached myself and Laura Strickland, we are both co-advisors for the Best Buddies program here, and she was a big proponent in pushing for unified sports. Her old neighbor is the unified track coach in Hingham and she was like, ‘we need to bring this to Braintree” shared Quintilliani.

“This is our first season and we did pretty well in terms of having kids participate. We had 9 special ed students and then we had 6 general ed students. Unified means that both general ed and special ed are combined. We compete just like an athlete here that participates in any other sport,”.

Kendra Garcia Trijillo is a partner on the team and helps her teammates who are in special education. Partners are able to encourage their buddies to do their best in their events and help them at meets and practice. Being a partner has helped her feel a sense of accomplishment from being there to support her teammates.

“There’s been a lot of times where I’ve realized I’m not good at something, but I can definitely help somebody else, and they’re just a thousand times better. And it’s great having that sense of achievement where you’ve helped them achieve something that maybe they wouldn’t be able to do by themselves”

This team has not only expanded Braintree High’s athletics, but has also become a place where students can build a community, gain confidence, and find their place within the school.

“I’ve honestly seen people gain so much more confidence and really just find something that they love to do because track has an event that anyone can enjoy,” said Chang.

The addition of unified sports has been a very positive one. There are many people who are supportive of the team and have helped make it a place for everyone to find love for sports, however this team would be nothing without its incredible and inspiring athletes.

Trujillo emphasized, “Most of all, the people who deserve recognition are the buddies themselves because even after hearing so many times that they can’t do a sport because of their disabilities, they are able to join something that gives them the chance to do anything they want and gives them a chance to strengthen their abilities.”

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