The inaugural Gifted Soccer game was played during lunch at San Benito High School on Feb. 8, matching two teams of Life Skills students against each other in a friendly, yet competitive game that received an assist from the girls' varsity soccer team.
SBHS senior soccer player and peer teacher Mariana Magana spearheaded the game, which she said came about after she played soccer at lunch with some Life Skills students a few months back, spurring the idea to involved more of them in an actual game.
"It's so much more than starting something new," she said. "It's about the awareness and inclusion they all deserve."
Matched up as the Red Team vs. the White Team, the players competed on a grassy area on the north side of campus, attracting a large crowd of supportive students who were on their lunch break. A DJ was on hand to play music and a number of Baler soccer players were on the field to direct the players during the fast-paced game.
The Red Team edged the White Team 3-2, with both squads excitedly celebrating each goal as the crowd cheered them on.
"Our students, although they are developmentally delayed, have typical and wants and needs like any teenager," said Paulette Cobb, SBHS's director of Special Education. "They couldn't play on the soccer team because they are medically fragile or lack the ability, so this allows them to interact with their general education peers" and have fun competing.
The Gifted Soccer games are scheduled to continue on various dates at lunch throughout the Spring semester, adding to the numerous inclusive programs at San Benito High School including a Gifted Cheer team, the Baler Buckaroo Rodeo for Life Skills students, the annual Gifted Games Olympic-style competition that alternates between SBHS and Gilroy High, the Life Skills Prom and Circle of Friends, in which 250 students participate.
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