Durant Unified Olympics Flag Football Scrimmage


Rachel Heese

Fans surround the Durant Unified Special Olympics Team after their victory

Lily Belcher, Editor In Chief

Quarterback Joey Sarrica looked down the field to see all of his receivers covered and the opponent’s defensive line coming at him. After two pump fakes, Sarrica took off down the field, past the fifty, past the twenty five, and into the end zone for the yellow team’s third touchdown of the game, securing a 19-18 victory over the green team.

[While this game didn’t take place at Raymond James Stadium], the Durant High School Unified Olympics Flag Football Scrimmage Game capped off months of practice for the twenty Durant Special Olympics Athletes. Each year, Durant, a Special Olympics Unified Champion School, participates in the Special Olympics, but this year their tournament, which typically includes swim, track, and flag football, was cancelled because of Coronavirus restrictions.

The Durant Unified Olympics team is comprised of Exceptional Student Education learners and their Unified Partners, general education students who are part of the Durant’s Buddies Program. Durant’s exceptional students take classes like any other student, but receive more individualized help from their teachers, as explained by ESE teacher Mary Gill.

Durant’s Buddies Program merges the education of both groups of students. Through the program, the Buddies learn how to work with classmates with different abilities and the exceptional students have the opportunity to make friends and establish relationships with other students at Durant.

“[As a Unified Partner], you go to the events with [the exceptional students] and help them with the sporting rules and then you kind of encourage them to play the sport,” said Unified Partner Emaly Martinez.

During the game, families of the athletes and National Honor Society students cheered from the sidelines. Each National Honor Society member made a poster for each of the athletes to display while Durant’s principal Gary Graham and assistant principal Andrew Holzbog acted as the referees during the game, which ended in a yellow team victory.