By Hannah van Warmerdam
Being involved in sports has many benefits. It brings people together, helps teach valuable lessons, encourages others to achieve goals and ultimately creates unity among team members. Unified sports provides these opportunities for players both with and without intellectual disabilities to compete in a friendly, yet competitive atmosphere.
Athletes such as Ashley Schroff and Ruby Gonzales have experienced the benefits of Unified sports personally. Ashley, 21, and Ruby, 16, compete on Lompoc High School’s Unified basketball team and will be traveling to Seattle for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in July.
Ashley and Ruby both started playing with Unified last year.
“Joining the team, at first, I was a little skeptical, but I am so glad I did,” said Ruby. “Joining has helped me step out of my comfort zone and make new friends. It has allowed me to try new things and find more interests.”
Ashley and Ruby both met each other last year and have been teammates and friends ever since. When asked what they enjoy most, Ashely said she loves helping out her teammates, getting along with them and having fun.
Both Ashley and Ruby are eager to be going to the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, knowing these games only happen once every four years.
“It is crazy that we get to be a part of the USA Games. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Ashley said.