We Are One - The Holmdel Unified Intramural Sports League

Credits: Jay Yannello
Credits: Jay Yannello
Credits: Jay Yannello
Credits: Jay Yannello

HOLMDEL, N.J. - 'Life is a journey, not a destination'. This phrase captures moments in life when something bigger, more dramatic and elegant is afoot. Holmdel Unified Intramural Sports League (HUISL) is that something.

HUISL blazed through Holmdel with unparalleled energy and excitement in the last few months, culminating in an event at Cross Farm Park in May. At this event, approximately 200 children participated both locally and from around the area.

Following this event and for the first time ever, a local student represented Holmdel in Unified Sports at the NJSIAA Championship Track Meet in Columbus, N.J.

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Who is this athlete and trailblazer? Holmdel High School student Jordan Yannello.

Said Jordan, "I like Unified Sports because I get to spend more time with my friends from school and it's fun, especially track which I'll be training hard for next year with my coach and teammates."

TAPinto Holmdel & Colts Neck also shares the words of her proud father, Jay Yannello:

"We moved to Holmdel nearly 17 years ago for its country beauty and incredible school system, but we had no idea how incredible it would be for our yet-to-be-born child with special needs - Jordan - who has flourished here.The highly-inclusive and supportive nature of the Holmdel School system has allowed Jordan to be just one of the kids.This includes the Unified Sports program where she and her friends can train, play and compete with some of Holmdel's best talent throughout the year. This collaboration was taken to the next level this past weekend when Jordan represented Holmdel for the first time ever in Unified Sports at the NJSIAA Championship Track Meet in Columbus, NJ.  

There she competed with other special needs children in the 100 Meter Dash and Long-Jump events; immediately and seamlessly after the state's best High School athletes finished their respective events.    It was an incredible day for everyone and we thank Coach Cole; Coach Bell; Mr. Quinn; and Principal Loughran for making it happen. 

Beyond the clear benefits of inclusion to students like Jordan, I actually believe the greatest benefits are ascribed to the general student body who - through daily interaction - will grow up to become more understanding, patient, and compassionate individuals".

Well said and congratulations to Jordan! 

According to the NJ Special Olympics website the Unified Sports programming is dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences. Unified Sports joins people with and without disabilities on the same team and was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.

In Holmdel High School, The Unified Sports Program Co-Coordinators are James Gelpke and Elliot Cohen with numerous coaches such as Geraldine Semenza and Brendan Quinn in the High School and Leslie McMahon in the Indian Hill School. Certainly, many other dedicated folks helped guide, coach, train and support the student athletes.

The most important group, of course, that is critical to the success of the program are the parents, siblings and extended family of the athletes. Their support and love fuels the relentless confidence shared by the athletes and powers the successful program with talent, support and guidance.

Special Olympics New Jersey offers many Unified Sports participation options:

School-based Unified Sports

  • Play Unified Leagues
  • Shriver Cup Unified Soccer and Bowling
  • SONJ Unified League through school-based local training program
  • Unified Game Days
  • Unified Recreation Programs
  • Intramurals and game play recreation or competitive events
  • School or district-based Special Olympics Local Training Program

College Unified Clubs

Colleges across the state host Special Olympics Sports Club that bring Special Olympics athletes ages 16 and older together on teams with college students. Teams practice one day a week and compete on the weekend. Special Olympics hosts two annual College Shriver Cup competitions in soccer and basketball. Read more about our participating College Unified Sports programs.

For any information regarding Unified Sports please contact them at COLLEGE UNIFIED SPORTS DONATE AND SUPPORT THE OPPORTUNITY

Holmdel's Unified Intramural Sports League - A community connected through shared interests, common bonds and mutual support.  One.


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