Since 2013, Special Olympics New York (SONY) and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) have offered Unified Champion Schools programming through interscholastic Unified Sports and inclusive youth leadership clubs to NYSPHSAA member schools. Special Olympics New York provides initial seed funding, training for coaches, advisors and youth leaders, and ongoing technical support and rules interpretation.

Unified Sports is an inclusive sports program that unites individuals with intellectual disabilities (athletes) and without intellectual disabilities (partners) as teammates for training and competition. Each week we want to recognize an athlete and partner who embody the spirit of Unified Sports. This week our honorees are athlete Jacob Golan and his partner Colby Haberl, and their student coach Kathie Kreppenneck!

Colby was the first ever partner to come to the program and has helped out in every aspect. He has participated in all three sports, summer camp and the polar plunge, and he graduates this year.

Jacob has been with the unified program since its inception and has been one of the most positive and hard-working athletes over the last three years.

Sean Lauber, who nominated Jacob and Colby, remarked about the pair changing the dynamic of their school:

Jacob has become a much more visual part of our school and is more willing to talk to people and share his ideas and successes. [Colby] has helped to increase the inclusion of our athletes in the school and made them feel part of the entire community.

 

Maria Shields, who nominated Kathie, praised her:

Kathie is very passionate about students with disabilities. When the opportunity came along to include students with disabilities in varsity level sports, Kathie immediately jumped on board. She will do anything to provide a more inclusive environment for all students.