Allied expands, friendship remains

JUNIOR CHASE DOUGLAS and freshman Larissa Maits run out of the gates at pep rally Oct. 13.

john bowers

JUNIOR CHASE DOUGLAS and freshman Larissa Maits run out of the gates at pep rally Oct. 13.

Nina D’addario and Will Behm

With 41 student athletes marked on the roster, the allied soccer program is fielding its largest team since coach Anita Shaw’s tenure started seven years ago.

The team was composed of 12 students with disabilities and welcomed 25 other athletes to support the special needs players as “buddies.” The “buddy” role was created for students to support and bond with their fellow teammates while also learning the skills and craft of the sport.

“The immense number of buddies reflects growth of the program and kids from both the disability community and the general student body,” Shaw said.

The buddies have made consistent efforts to connect with their peers and have focused on building and maintaining these relationships.

“They are engaged with the athletes on and off the field and make practice the best part of the athletes’ day,” Shaw said.

Junior Jenna Van Wagner is new to the program this year and values this rapport.

“My favorite part of being a buddy is learning things about athletes that you wouldn’t have known prior to joining the team, like their sense of humor,” Van Wagner said.

Buddies are encouraged to build this relationship outside of school as well.

“Hanging out with them outside of school really shows that [athletes with disabilities] have another friend and someone to rely on,” Senior Will Schmidt said.

Freshman Rodolfo Zurek, an athlete on the team, spoke on the program.

My favorite part is that I’m making friends. I’ve learned how to get to know everybody, meet new teammates, and to have fun.” Zurek said.

The team as a whole was 3-2-2 this season. Defense maintained position in a 3-0 win against Catonsville, and offense triumphed in the 6-2 win against Owings Mills.

Zurek led the way in a multitude of games, scoring eight goals this season. Junior Chase Douglass was also a force on offense, scoring seven goals. Not to go unnoticed, juniors Chase Blanchard, Katie Eppler, and Ben Kazanzides scored one goal each. Junior Matt O’ Connor was the goalie, closing the season with 16 total saves.

Dulaney hosted their very first inter-county game this year against Oakland Mills High School. It should be noted that only two previous inter-county games have been held since allied soccer began in 1994. The match was followed with a small ceremony and each athlete was awarded a certificate commemorating this moment.

Following their regular season, the team celebrated their successes. At the season ending party, Douglass and Zurek took home the Unsung Heroes award, Blanchard won Most Improved, and senior Ellen Scheel won the Spirit of Soccer.

After the party, athletes took the field one last time at Franklin High for the Pumpkin Bowl. Dulaney capped off their season with a final victory.

Shaw is seeking to continue to expand and grow all allied programs in the years to come.