Guest Voices: What Allied Sports Means to Me
December 13th, 2018
Emma Brandt is a senior at Mt. Hebron High School and is currently interning for the Communications Division at HCPSS. Here she writes about her experiences with the Allied Sports program, which allows high school students with disabilities to play competitive sports with their non-disabled peers who have never played at the varsity or junior varsity level.
The allied soccer coach was my freshman biology teacher. I often came to her for help, so I knew her fairly well. Sophomore year was her first year as a coach, and she asked me to join allied soccer. I like helping people, so I was interested.
We practice in the gym for softball and out on the field for soccer. At Mt. Hebron, our team has about 15 students, but ours is bigger than most. We have about three to five peer helpers, an assistant coach and a coach. I teach the kids how to play soccer and softball, but I haven’t needed any prior experience in those sports. I attend games frequently throughout the season and an end of the season tournament. At games, I either cheer on the sidelines or help a student out on the field.
At the end of each season, we have an end of the year party with pizza, desserts, and snacks from parents and the coaches. We give out certificates to our players specific to the unique contributions they brought to our team. For example, a player might be awarded “most determined” or “best at making everyone laugh.” As the coach gives them their certificates, she shares her favorite memories of them and what she loves about who they are.
From Allied Sports, I have developed meaningful friendships with people who are honest, accepting and not afraid to be themselves. Participating in this organization has helped me become more comfortable interacting with people who are different from me. I have developed close relationships with the coach and other peer helpers. I love it because I get to have fun in a loving, encouraging environment that isn’t intense or competitive. Success is based on how hard you try, rather than your skills. Everyone on my team has become a friend who I appreciate and have come to know very well.