From staff reports
AUBURN — The Alabama High School Athletic Association will kick off its first-ever Super 7 State Football Championships next week at Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium. While seven state champions will be crowned for the first time in AHSAA playoff history, an eighth game will actually get the Super 7 Week under way.
In conjunction with Alabama Special Olympics, the AHSAA will host the first Unified Sports state game featuring teams from Hewitt-Trussville High School and Lawrence County’s school system Wednesday, Dec. 3 at 3:30 p.m. The AHSAA Class 7A state championship game between Hoover and Prattville will follow at 7 p.m.
A ticket purchased for the Unified Sports exhibition game will also entitle the holder admission to the Class 7A championship game later that night.
Unified Sports is an inclusive sports program that combines an approximately equal number of students with intellectual disabilities with “partners” (individuals without intellectual disabilities) on teams for training and competition. The concept was inspired by the principle: “Training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.”
The Unified Sports game will be a flag football contest played on the Jordan-Hare Stadium surface with modifications to make the field 25 yards by 60 yards. The NFHS Network plans to live-stream the game over its Web-based network with Opelika High School’s Student Broadcast Program handling the production. A link for the contest will be available at www.ahsaa.com and at www.NFHSnetwork.com.
According to Special Olympics Alabama, Unified Sports has proven to be effective in achieving social inclusion. Athletes feel a sense of belonging and can meaningfully interact with others and develop mutually rewarding relationships. They are recognized as contributors and received with acceptance and respect.
AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese sees the Unified Sports competition as a way to teach the life lessons of education-based athletics.
“We strongly believe in providing as many opportunities as possible for all students from our member schools to participate and share in the many benefits of education-based athletics,” Savarese said.
Hewitt-Trussville head coach is Tim Meacham and Lawrence County’s head coach is Steve Jones.