Holding a clipboard in one hand and her toddler son in the other, Tori Hooker, senior assistant director of sports programs for UNC Campus Recreation, kicked off the first day of the 4th annual Unified Flag Football League, partnered with Special Olympics Orange County.
"Unified Sports is a way for Special Olympics athletes to come together and be on the same team with people at UNC,” Hooker said. “It’s more of a collaboration of the community and creating a sense of belonging by incorporating everyone with a variety of both intellectual abilities and physical abilities.”
Sept. 12 was an assessment day for the league. Organizers evaluated players' engagement and athletic abilities, looking to make balanced teams so the season can be both competitive and fun. Teams play every Thursday for four weeks and attend an ice cream social at the end of the season.
Hooker said anyone can come out and play, but it's usually students.
Every year, UNC Campus Recreation runs a Unified Flag Football League in the fall and a Unified Kickball League in the spring as part of its intramural sports program. UNC students can sign up for a unified sport on the IMLeagues website, just as they would for any other intramural sport.