Fountain Valley High School hosted the Huntington Beach Union High School District “Battle for the Ball” Special Olympics Unified Sports Tournament on April 26. The district-wide program aims to promote social inclusion by uniting adapted physical education athletes (students with intellectual disabilities) and partners (students without intellectual disabilities) through sports.

The participating high school teams, complete with their own moniker, included Edison (Lightning and Chargers), Fountain Valley (Baron Ballers, Baron Kickers, and Baron Strikers), Ocean View (Seahawks Gold and Seahawks Cardinal) and Westminster (Den Defenders, Roaring Red, Pouncing Pride, Lion Mambo, and Legends). The teams were split into two divisions — Professional, for higher skilled players, and Collegiate, for players still learning.

The morning began with opening ceremony, including a special presentation from the Special Olympics sports & programs manager, Jose Cabrera. Cabrera presented Edison, Fountain Valley and Ocean View each with an official Unified Champion Schools banner. According to the Special Olympics website, a Unified Champion School “engages schools to create climates of inclusion, acceptance, respect, and human dignity for all students with and without intellectual disabilities.”

“We’re excited to partner with the school district so that we can engage all of the schools to be a part of this tournament to foster acceptance and inclusion through sports,” said Cabrera.

Following a long morning of fun and intense competition, the Baron Kickers took home the Collegiate Championship title while the Den Defenders claimed the Professional title. Each of the teams were awarded ribbons for their efforts in the tournament.

*Westminster was previously awarded with a Unified Champion School banner.

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