Manhattan high school soccer team takes home gold during Special Olympics USA games

Lauren Glassberg Image
Monday, June 13, 2022
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A bus load of champions returned home to Manhattan after an epic run at the Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando. Lauren Glassberg has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A bus load of champions returned home to Manhattan after an epic run at the Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando.

Among the athletes were the City Hawks - a high school soccer team that took home the gold.

The team is made up of players from two schools - Harvest Collegiate and P721M. It is a unified team - meaning half have a disability and half do not. '

"It felt special, I haven't been on a team like this, so it was a new learning experience," said Alexander Carbajal.

"We showed teamwork strategy and confidence," said Special Olympics partner Zion Dillard.

Unified Partner Player Genesis Duran says the chemistry was there all the time on the field.

What is so remarkable about the team is that many of the players had never played soccer. When it came to training, they didn't have a gym, let alone a field - they trained in the school lobby or courtyard, and still managed to win.

"When you see our team play, you just see a soccer team. You don't see differences or forced inclusion. Everybody has a role, everyone contributes on our team," said Coach Joe Stewart.

The team is about heart as much as it is about skill.

"I'm so proud of them, they even taught me so much. I taught them how to play soccer, but they taught me about life and skills and just being together - it was amazing," added Coach Oscar Vicente.

They are young champions - on the field and off.

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