Unified flag football tournament shows the importance of competition


Nick Bell

Chris Tally runs past Legend High School defenders with the football in tow

Nick Bell

The Fossil Ridge High School Unified Flag Football Team placed second place in the state competition at CSU on Saturday, October 26. A 14-6 win over Legend followed by a 28-37 loss to Eagle Crest cemented their position.

Although a positive result, Unified Football is about much more than results. Unlike most other sporting competitions, Unified is about the process rather than the end result.

Immediately noticeable at CSU was how much sportsmanship was present. After a sack, or, for that matter, any flag was pulled, the flag was given right back to who it was pulled from, not dropped on the ground. After mistakes, both teams were supportive rather than destructive.

Unified teaches the players more than just how to play football. It helps them become better people, too. Player Ian Purcell explained, “They’ve (my team) taught me the value of teamwork and how important it is to support your teammates.”

It was obvious that the team had come together a lot over the season. Almost more than a team, it felt more like a family. Everybody had each other’s back, whether a good or bad play. Something else impressive was that every piece of criticism was constructive.

Unified Football is a perfect example of how competition can be a healthy motivator. The same thing separating all the competitors from each other is the same thing that brought them closer together. As Unified parent John Knuckey says, “It’s not just about playing in the games, it’s about the relationships he’s (David Knuckey) built at school with his peers.”

One of the highlights of the day was David Knuckey,  or D.K running through the entire Legend team to score a beautiful touchdown. D.K. was also named MVP of the competition. After the play, D.K. said, “It felt great. It felt really great. Running is what inspired me, (to play football)”

Compassion was an overall theme of the day. Whether to your teammates or the other team, compassion was prevalent throughout the whole competition. As mother Bobby Samuel elaborated, “It’s (Unified flag football) taught him (Kaden Samuel) compassion and teamwork.”

The season has had some great moments. Player Chris Tally’s was “when we almost got 50 points.” Silvia Morales Estrada explained, “I like the coaches and I like the football a lot because it’s fun to play.”

Overall, the Unified flag football state competition was an extremely positive demonstration of competition that showcased how much the players have worked and improved. When asked what area of improvement she’s seen the most of, coach Jamie Westyn said, “Our level of sportsmanship. They’re becoming amazing people and caring for their teammates and others.”