Reagan Trent April – Have you ever been offered an opportunity to share your passion and knowledge of your sport in a truly unique way? Accepted a challenge to try something new? When one of my coaches approached me to ask if I would be willing to share some of my time and join the unified archery team, I was intrigued. I had never been a part of a unified team and couldn’t wait to be involved. I’m so thankful that I have been able to be a part of this program, it’s one of the many things I look forward to each week. Seeing the joy on my fellow student’s faces just makes my day. Knowing that I made a difference in their day is quite a rewarding feeling.
My school district has a unified sports division. We bring together students with special needs who are interested in specific sports, and unite them with an experienced student in that sport to safely teach them. For the second year since its creation, I have been fortunate enough to participate in unified archery and would like to share that experience with other archers. I have connected with so many different people and I for one can say it was and still is an amazing thing to do.
In Unified Archery, we pair up and begin with some fun games as bonding exercises and tell each other about ourselves. We safely prepare the range and equipment together, then begin with the eleven steps of archery. Experienced archers take the others through the steps and help if there is any trouble or confusion. We sometimes show our partners the right and wrong way to shoot, which puts a smile on all of our faces and helps our new archers learn with a little bit of fun.I especially like when we first began the season last year, my partner was a little shy and apprehensive about shooting. At first, I wasn’t really sure how to break the ice with her, but we started talking about our shared interest of movies and we really hit it off. She progressed really well during our practices together and gained confidence in her shooting. We continue practicing together for several weeks, and finish up our season with a tournament against a neighboring district’s unified team. It is a special event that I’m proud to be a part of.
Unified sports teams help all students develop social skills and confidence. Not everyone gets the chance to participate in a sport or be part of a team. Everyone should have the opportunity to try something new. As an experienced archer, the ability to give back to your community by sharing your craft is an absolutely extraordinary feeling. If your school has an option to develop a team, talk with your coach or athletic director to start the process. It will be worth it, trust me.
Reagan Trent is a 2023 student contributor.