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  • The Severna Park unified tennis program achieved gold medals and silver medals in Division 1 of the state championships on November 1.
    The Severna Park unified tennis program achieved gold medals and silver medals in Division 1 of the state championships on November 1.

Severna Park Unified Tennis Ends Season With State Championship

Colin Murphy
View Bio
December 6, 2017

The Severna Park unified tennis program capped its fall season with a winning performance at the Maryland State Unified Tennis Championships at Towson University on November 1.

The team of Lauren Brannen, Caitlyn Chew, Katie Currie, Callie Davis, Colin Dennis, Ian Dennis, Briana De Rosa, Elisabeth Eufemia, Timothy Lentz, Julia Myers, Joseph O’Donnell, Sean Ostrowski, Jackson Ramsey, Genevieve Sampson, Collin Taylor, Madeline White and Clayton Wilkerson won the Gold Medal and Silver Medal in Division 1 of the competition.

Despite not having courts to use for practice while the school continues renovation and construction of new athletic facilities, the team still made great use of its practice time in the main indoor gym via different games and the electronic ball shooter, said coach Nadine Hendley.

“We practiced our skills while developing new friendships,” said Hendley. “By the time we reached the county and state tournament the kids really were close, and even the day of states when they were competing against each other for the gold and silver, they showed true sportsmanship.”

The unified tennis program, which partners students with disabilities and special needs with peers to create an opportunity for them to play sports, has been a welcome addition to the athletic and educational offerings throughout Anne Arundel County since its inception several years ago. AACPS also offers unified bowling in the winter and unified bocce in the spring.

Bill O’Donnell spoke of the benefits his son has enjoyed by participating in the unified tennis program.

“Our son, Joey, has always enjoyed sports; however, having several physical/medical challenges since birth, it seemed unlikely he would play on a high school sports team,” said O’Donnell. “Unified tennis gave [him] that life experience. We are grateful to all the people who make this program happen.”

Laurie Dennis, whose sons, Ian and Colin, are partners on the team, said the program has enriched their high school social experience.

“This program has helped foster my sons’ level of compassion, patience, understanding and team spirit,” said Dennis. “It brings students together that may not otherwise have met and helps create lasting friendships among them.”

Joanna Ostrowski, whose son, Sean, participates in the program, expressed similar sentiments, saying the program creates valued bonds between athletes and their partners.

“My son joined the unified sports program because he and his brother had a friend with special needs who asked them if they would join. Sean has enjoyed getting to know his teammates both on and off the courts. He is able to interact with more students during the school day and make a difference in someone’s day with just a ‘hi.’ With all of the unified teams, it really ‘takes a village,’ and this unified tennis team really shows that they are unified as a team. I have been involved in the unified program for four years and this team has exhibited the true meaning of what a team is.”

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