Unity is in the air

By Heidi Daniels, Round Table reporter

Spring is in the air, which means warm weather, shorts and Unified Track.

This is my first season with Unified Track, and it has been amazing. The people on the Middletown High School Unified Track team are so kind, and are there to have fun with no ill feelings of competition. We get the opportunity to work and create relationships with people of different skill sets and abilities, making the activity even more enjoyable.

I was hesitant about joining the team because I have never done anything like this and didn’t know what or how I would do. I finally made up my mind, thinking, “This will be a good experience for me.” I love working with all the kids and how different everyone is. I have built great friendships with some of the kids, making me look forward to practice and meets each week.

Even though the team does not have practice every weekday like most athletic teams, we work hard and play hard. We practice probably a total of three hours a week, then meets are usually four hours, so not nearly as long as a typical track meet, which typically go for seven or eight hours. I can only go to one day of practice due to previous obligations, but to get myself prepared, I walk and/or run during the week to make sure I am prepared for the upcoming meet or practice.

The Unified Track team has competed at home, Tuscarora High School, Governor Thomas Johnson High School and Oakdale High School. The team’s final meet, the State Championship, is May 10 at Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex in Landover, Maryland. Please come and support the team if you can. I know from experience that it feels great when you have peers supporting you.

Speaking of support, the team just recently got a new coach, MHS health teacher Tim Leber. He adds a wonderful and supportive spirit to the team. He makes sure we are comfortable with the events we are competing in and knows how to make us smile during them. He has a genuine care for all the students on the team, along with MHS special education teacher Kim Cashdollar, who is like the “team mom,” putting together snack bags and making us a dinner before our first meet. The two make an amazing duo.

Unified Track has really opened my eyes to see others differently and to not  judge anyone. It has pushed me in ways that I could not imagine, both physically and mentally, but it is all worth it when I see the smiles on everyone’s faces. It is truly a pleasure working with such gifted and delightful students. They take any challenge that comes their way by the horns and won’t be conquered.

Being on this team has been a profound experience, and I am definitely thinking of doing it again next year. You should, too!