Unified Soccer: connections leads to success

Emily Hunt, Staff Writer

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At Hoffman Estates High School, Unified Soccer has provided students with the opportunity to unite and overcome differences, forge new friendships, and experience great success.

Head Unified Soccer Coach Julie Phelan has been working with Special Olympics at Hoffman for six years. She says one thing she loves most about her job is “being able to see kids with disabilities in sporting events because they’re treated like everybody else.”

Unified Soccer allows students with disabilities the ability to play together on the same team as kids without disabilities. Three Unified Soccer teams from HEHS have encountered enormous success this past year. Two of the teams took bronze while the third took gold, advancing them to state.

One of the players, junior Samuel Devereux, has even qualified for Team Illinois for the USA games and will be going to Seattle, Washington to compete in July. Devereux has been passionate about soccer since he joined the program Young Athletes at the age of 8. His love for sports has led him to participate in Unified Soccer at Hoffman, as well as Track and Field, since his freshman year.

The whole team is very excited about the experience. One of the partner students, Kelly Paradowski, has also been involved in Unified Soccer since her freshman year. She learned about the program in her Partners’ gym class. The gym class allows kids without disabilities to help out those who do. She claims Unified Soccer have taught her “patience and leadership” and is overall her “favorite extracurricular activity she has done throughout her four years of high school.”

Unified Soccer allows kids to unite and grow together. Phelan “loves the inclusion” and “everything about her job.”  

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