Unified soccer creates family-like environment to make a championship run

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Unified soccer creates family-like environment to make a championship run

The Unified Soccer Team hypes themselves up for their home game against Keene.
The team’s first game got cancelled, so they were looking forward to playing together.

The Unified Soccer Team hypes themselves up for their home game against Keene. The team’s first game got cancelled, so they were looking forward to playing together.

Kathy Batchelor

The Unified Soccer Team hypes themselves up for their home game against Keene. The team’s first game got cancelled, so they were looking forward to playing together.

Kathy Batchelor

Kathy Batchelor

The Unified Soccer Team hypes themselves up for their home game against Keene. The team’s first game got cancelled, so they were looking forward to playing together.

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There is one thing that is very clear about the Unified teams at LHS: they aren’t just teams, they’re a family.

The Unified Soccer Team has been on the up every year for the past four years. In 2016, the team won their first playoff game in team history. In 2017, the team made it to the Final Four. In 2018, they followed up on the previous year’s campaign and made it to the Final Four again.

Coach Ashley Tebbetts loves the success her team brings to the table, but she also appreciates the little things.

“Successful seasons are wonderful, but the memories that are made and cherished in Unified involve celebrating the achievements of others,” Tebbetts said. “Having post-game pizza parties, dancing the night away at the semi-formal dances, enjoying laughter and singing on the bus rides, and sitting down together for dinner on our way home from away games.” 

Tebbetts has the help of Coach Laurie MacInnis. MacInnis has a lot of love for the program and believes it has a lot of potential. 

“My picture, my wish, my desire is that it is bigger and better than all the other sports teams here at LHS,” MacInnis said.

When Unified first began, Tebbetts sometimes struggled to find enough players to field a team. Now the team is so popular that it has to turn helpers down due to the amount of people that sign up. 

It takes many strong qualities to be a helper. Some of them include being a good role model, being a leader, being a team player, to name a few. These qualities are what Tebbetts looks for when selecting her team.

“The program is successful because of the players who participate in the program,” Tebbetts said. “When you have participants who are strong leaders, kind to others, and who are positive, others are naturally going to be drawn to the program.” 

How the athletes perform is directly correlated to the quality of the helpers.

“Our athletes thrive when they are around individuals who display this type of energy, and our peer mentors are equally inspired by how genuine, hard-working, and determined our athletes are,” Tebbetts said.

A senior helper on the unified soccer team, Alex Cafaro, has a strong connection with the team.

“My brother, who has special needs, had a big influence on [me] joining the team. I wanted to be in that environment and help out other kids like him,” Cafaro said.

The Unified Soccer Team has yet to win a championship plaque—something they have been striving toward for many years. They look as it as if it is a need rather than a want.

 “We have to get the plaque at the championship,” senior athlete Brandon Morani said.

Morani loves playing soccer, but his favorite part is spending time with his teammates.

“My favorite thing is the pizza parties after each home game,” Morani said.

I have been a part of the Unified family since my freshman year. This family is one that will always stick together, no matter what. We will always stand up for one another, we will always be there for each other when someone is having a rough day, and we will always be there to lean on. We will always have the will to win.

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