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Belton ISD creates first ever track team that includes students with special needs and disabilities

Posted at 7:21 AM, Feb 08, 2024

BELTON, Texas — “I was so excited, it made me pumped up and I wanted to get ready,” said Lake Belton High School senior, Tyke Strain.

Athletics is something many students enjoy and participate in throughout school.

Belton ISD is going above and beyond to ensure no student is left out.

Creating its first ever unified track team, the district said it will help bring all students together.

"Unified track identifies students that have intellectual disabilities, those are considered our unified athletes. They will be paired up with general population students who are considered neurotypical and those will be our unified partners and they will run alongside each other, they will practice together, and compete together,” said Belton ISD unified track team head coach, Anne Marie Zuilhof.

Wednesday afternoon the district held its first parent informational meeting.

There was a doctor on site providing physicals for students interested in participating.

For some Belton ISD students, it’s something they’ve been waiting for.

“Well one of the reasons is because I haven’t done a sport in a few years so I think I’m excited to kind of get back in my physical way,” said Lake Belton High School senior, Christopher Firkins.

Students on the unified track team will get the opportunity to compete against one another.

“I’m a competitive person but sports are kind of hard because I haven’t played competitively in a few years,” said Firkins.

Other students are just grateful for the opportunity.

“I want to thank Coach Barnes, she's a good coach and stuff, and my mom,” said Strain.

An updated physical is required for all students interested in participating.

You can find more information on the district's website.