Bend Senior High adds another trophy to its trophy case this month!

The state championship games for the Special Olympics Unified basketball teams took place in Corvallis over the weekend of March 9th, 2019. Bend Senior High’s Unified team beat Sutherlin High School 32-26, and took first place in the OSAA/Special Olympics Oregon state championship game. Over 70 teams compete in the league throughout the state. This is the first year that a Bend Senior High Unified team has won a state championship.

Unified Sports is a program of Special Olympics Oregon. Each team combines equal numbers of Special Olympic athletes and athletes without intellectual disabilities. At Bend Senior High, Unified Sports is offered as an elective, and several co-ed teams form each season of the school year. They play soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, and softball in the spring. As with any sports team, fun and friendship are part of the experience.

“It is tons of fun,” said Cameron Walker, a Bend High Unified player who was new to the team this year. “I’m so happy we won first place, and I liked going to Corvallis and staying in the hotel with my friends.” Walker plans to continue playing with the Unified team, and hopes the team can return to the championship tournament next year.

“The Unified teams are a natural way for kids to get to know each other,” said Robert Tadjiki, Bend Senior High Special Education teacher and coach of the Unified teams. “It’s a recipe for success. They laugh, talk, get pizza… Unified teams have become part of our school culture.”

Tadjiki appreciates the Unified Sports model, where kids of diverse abilities learn to be athletes and learn to be teammates together. Those are powerful life skills for all kids, he noted, and would recommend the program to anyone who might be thinking about getting involved.

Learn more about getting involved with a Unified Sports team at SOOR.org.