This article was submitted Katrina Hassman, from Park Ridge, Illinois. Katrina is a Unified partner and is attending the Special Olympics USA Games as part of the Youth Leadership Experience (YLE). YLE is an opportunity where Unified pairs are placed in a variety of volunteer roles during the USA Games.
Students from both Vernon Hills High School and Libertyville High School comprise the 2022 Team Illinois (#TeamSOILL) Unified Soccer team. The term Unified denotes that the team is made up of players with and without an intellectual disability.
Both the Special Olympics Illinois athletes and the Unified team members have been training very hard throughout the past few months.
One thing is for certain - they are all ready to bring home the gold.
This stellar group has been training by walking a ton, practicing together every Sunday, and practicing individually so the entire team can be stronger.
A typical practice for the team consists of warmups, drills, and scrimmaging. Warmups are filled with running, stretching, and jumping. A few of their favorite drills include dribbling the ball and weaving through cones, as well as splitting into two groups and passing the ball in a diamond.
Finally, practices end with a fun, yet competitive, scrimmage. These scrimmages have helped the team prepare for the intensity of the USA Games.
While practices help the team improve their soccer skills, they also provide bonding experiences for the team. The team has the motto, “do it as a team,” something they truly strive for together. If one player has to run or do push ups, the entire team will follow suit.
The unity and skill of the team ensure that they will represent #TeamSOILL very well in Orlando. Be sure to follow along to see what this group and all of the members of #TeamSOILL do at the USA Games, being held this June 5-12.
To learn more about #TeamSOILL and the USA Games, please visit soill.org/usa-games.