They are making history as two of eight Seattle Public Schools high schools that have launched soccer teams for the new Seattle Public Schools Unified Soccer League in partnership with Special Olympics, which describes the international Unified Sports program as being for teams that include players “with and without intellectual disabilities,” training and playing together. On Saturday, all eight schools met for a series of round-robin games at Interbay as part of a special event dubbed The Kickoff. The games were preceded by opening ceremonies including a March to the Match. (Sealth’s band was originally scheduled to play, but it turned out that noise regulations didn’t allow that so early in the morning!) The other schools involved are Rainier Beach and Cleveland, in the “South Division” with WSHS and CSIHS, and Nathan Hale, Ballard, NOVA, and Ingraham, comprising the “North Division.” We also found the West Seattle area represented early Saturday morning by School Board president Steve Sundquist:
Joe Hampson, director of sports programs for Special Olympics Washington, explains that soccer is the pilot program for Unified Sports locally; elsewhere in the U.S., he says, basketball and golf are played too. They’re starting with soccer since it is now widely played by kids before they get to high school, it seemed like the perfect sport with which to begin. Competition for the new league continues next Saturday at Interbay.