COSTA MESA, Calif. — Louis Zaffino is a senior outdoors hitter for the Marina Excessive boys’ volleyball staff.

He acquired to symbolize his college in a distinct aspect on a latest Thursday morning. He acquired his swings in, however he additionally yelled assist to Vikings particular training freshmen Moses Castaneda and Skylar Swanson as they tried to hit an outsized plastic volleyball over the web at Edison Excessive.

The Huntington Seashore Union Excessive College District’s Unified Sports activities volleyball event was again. Six gamers have been on the courtroom at a time for every staff, three tailored bodily training athletes (college students with mental disabilities) and three scholar companions with out mental disabilities.

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Who was who didn’t actually matter. All that mattered was the staff on the occasion sponsored by Particular Olympics Orange County.

“It was tremendous enjoyable,” Zaffino mentioned. “I had fun cheering everyone on and simply seeing everyone have a superb time.”

Successful helps, too. Marina swept the varsity and junior varsity divisions on the Unified Sports activities event. Within the varsity division, the Vikings rallied to edge Westminster 20-19 within the championship match.

Marina’s successful varsity staff consisted of Zaffino, Castaneda, Swanson, Mia Mariano, Riley Keany, Marlee Ware, Kerolos Davis and Ramsey Garcia. Mariano, a senior, is a varsity ladies’ volleyball participant for the Vikings, who additionally had their volleyball staff captains in every gender — Maci Hendry and Joseph Nu ñez — helping the junior varsity.

ASB college students additionally teamed up with particular training college students on lots of the rosters on the event, which additionally noticed Fountain Valley, Ocean View and host Edison competing.

“It’s completely life-affirming, what’s occurring, seeing folks smile and clap,” mentioned Marina particular training instructor Butch Fredlow, one in all two of the Vikings’ Unified Sports activities liaisons together with Jen Letterman. “It was excellent. It was actually an excellent day. For lots of the children in our program, they’re by no means going to have the ability to stroll right into a gymnasium with a band enjoying for them, announcers, scoreboards, folks cheering for them. Getting that athletic expertise, even on a smaller degree, is such a confidence increase.”

Every of the district excessive colleges takes turns internet hosting a Unified Sports activities occasion all year long. Those remaining in 2021-22 are a soccer event at Fountain Valley Excessive in April, and a monitor and area meet at Marina Excessive in Might.

The March occasion was high-energy all through, with a gap ceremony, a DJ and somebody making balloon animals. Ocean View instructor Courtney Gillett, the district liaison, mentioned the occasions are good for particular training and basic training college students alike.

“Typically these excessive schoolers don’t see outdoors of themselves,” Gillett mentioned. “I see on my campus, after they’ve performed on a staff, they’re knuckling or high-fiving their pals. They turn into pals. The entire boundaries are taken away, and it actually focuses on friendship and competitors.”

Edison Excessive has the biggest particular training inhabitants among the many district’s excessive colleges. Edison Particular Talents Cluster administrator Joe Loomis mentioned this system has about 200 complete highschool and younger grownup college students.

It was a complete college affair on the latest occasion. Edison’s band, cheerleading staff and tune staff all participated, with the choir performing the nationwide anthem and the American Signal Language membership signing it. Edison lecturers additionally introduced their college students into the gymnasium to witness the event.

“The concept is to advertise relationships and friendships, and being inclusive,” Loomis mentioned. “I feel our gen ed and particular ed college students study from one another. I do know my college students look ahead to these occasions greater than something.”

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