Pictured with the trophy left to right:
Back row: Coach Louis Hernandez, Alex Hernandez, Leonard White, Jackson Osteen, Daniel Page, Greysen Rudd, Coach Sean Simmons
Front row: Demarcus Rowls, Gabe Dutton, George Hernandez, Izabel Hernandez and Jordan Nichols
April 19, 2019
After securing a 3rd place win at the Special Olympics of Florida state games in the fall, despite being bumped up a class, the Wakulla High School War Eagle Unified Flag Football team was invited to participate in the FHSAA (Florida High School Athletic Association) state playoff games in Raymond James Stadium on April 14 in Tampa.
Wakulla High School’s Flag Football athletes are Alex Hernandez, Leonard White, Jackson Osteen, Daniel Page, Greysen Rudd, Demarcus Rowls, Gabe Dutton, George Hernandez, Izabel Hernandez and Jordan Nichols.
Coaches are Louis and Joanne Hernandez and Sean Simmons.
The War Eagles faced opponents like Miami-Dade who has recently returned from Dubai where they placed in the World Games. The WHS Unified Flag Football Team did well enough to earn a 4th place ranking in Florida.
The SOFL (Special Olympics of Florida) state games were at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando in the fall.
Special Olympics is dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences.
Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team and “was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding,” according to the SOFL organization.
In Unified Sports, teams are made up of people of similar age and ability. “That makes practices more fun and games more challenging and exciting for all. Having sports in common is just one more way that preconceptions and false ideas are swept away” about students with special needs, adds SOFL.
Students with intellectual disabilities pairing with non-disabled students has gone on in Wakulla County schools for many years, such as the Cheerleading squads including students with intellectual disabilities on their teams.
“It is a joy to see the friendships made through Wakulla’s Special Olympics unified teams. There is a lot of growth in students understanding each other once those barriers are down. Our SOFL Flag Football athletes are a shining example of inclusion in action,” says Superintendent Bobby Pearce.