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Bruins News · Bruins to Participate in Inaugural Season of Unified Flag Football


The Bruins are proud to be one of the initial 32 schools who wil take part in the first year of Unified Flag Football. It is the second official sport sanctioned by the IHSAA which provides opportunities for students with and without disabilities. The Bruins also have a Unified Track and Field team. “We have really been excited about our participation in Unified Track. It has been a rewarding experience for our athletes, partners, coaches and fans,” Athletic Director Tony Uggen shared,”I knew the IHSAA was wanting to add another Unified Sport and with the experiences we have had with Unified Track it just seemed right to add Unified Football as well. The IHSAA set a minimum of at least 32 schools to add the sport so we jumped at the chance early. Fortunately, they got 32 schools to take part.”

IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox shared this information with Uggen via email:
“The IHSAA Board of Directors approved the addition of Unified Sports ® Flag Football as our 22nd sport in April and the Executive Committee approved the tournament format for 2018 at their summer meeting. The Board required a minimum of 32 schools and thanks to all of you, we reached that number exactly. Congratulations on choosing to be part of this historic season and many thanks for being one of the 32 schools that are allowing us to proceed with the inaugural tournament series this fall. By registering for this tournament, you are not only providing this opportunity to make real positive changes in the lives of your students with and without disabilities, but you are also allowing us to provide the same opportunity for the 31 other schools that chose to register for the 2018 Inaugural UnifiedSports ® Flag Football State Championship.”

For those unfamiliar with Unified Sports:
Unified Sports® is a trademarked program of Special Olympics, Inc. that promotes sports training and competition for teams that include people with and without intellectual disabilities. The focus of Unified Sports® is competition (not simply participation). Sports teach many life lessons: to work as a team, to follow rules and to be committed. Through sports we can find shared interests that allow friendships to form. By creating high expectations for students with intellectual disabilities we teach a new generation of regular education students that people with intellectual disabilities can be accountable, follow rules, be good teammates; and, as a result will be accepted as valued members of their school, community, or society in general.

“Tyler McDonald, who assisted with the Unified Track team, has volunteered to coach our team this year. I am excited for him and to see how things play out,” Uggen continued, “I am sure he will be looking for an assistant or two.”

How many does it take to play? A roster for a game consists of a maximum of 12 players. It takes five players from each team to start the game. Teams, however, may finish with four if there was an injury and a team didn’t have any replacements remaining. Three of five on the field at any given time are considered Athletes (athletes with a disability) and two are considered Partners (athletes without disabilities).

The game is played on a 60 yard long by 25 yard wide field. Games consist of two 20-minute halves. The clock is a running clock until the final minute of each halve. There is a system for overtime if the game is tied after regulation.

If anyone is interested in participating (open to boys and girls), or a staff member is interested in helping coach, please email Coach McDonald at tmcdonald@blackfordschools.org to express your interest.

“Our first task is to make sure we have enough Athletes (athletes with disabilities) to play or we cannot even compete. Ideally, we would want five to seven Athletes and five to seven Partners at a given game. This is all new to us so we will learn on the fly, but it should be an awesome experience for some kids who want to participate in athletics and don’t normally get the chance,” Uggen concluded.

The Bruins have already been placed in the Noblesville Sectional along with Fishers and Marion.

The 32 schools participating the first year are (grouped by sectional):
Bowman Academy
Griffith
Lake Central
LaVille

Goshen
Tippecanoe Valley
Warsaw
Wawasee

Carroll (FW)
Central Noble
East Noble
FW North Side

Blackford
Fishers
Marion
Noblesville

McCutcheon
West Lafayette Harrison
West Lafayette
Zionsville

Ben Davis
Carmel
Howe Academy
Warren Central

Bedford North Lawrence
Madison
Mooresville
Scottsburg

Evansville Central
Evansville Reitz
Floyd Central
Jasper