Rowan Unified Sports Club brings inclusive athletics to South Jersey

Unified Sports Club participants play soccer on the intramural field. - Photo via @rowanunified

Rowan’s Unified Sports Club had another successful event with some beautiful sunny weather this past Sunday. Two separate games took place at the Intramural Fields at 10 and 11 a.m. The Unified Sports Club is a sports club where Rowan students and Special Olympic athletes team up for some friendly competition. Affiliated with Special Olympics New Jersey (SONJ), it combines people with and without disabilities and welcomes participants from all around South Jersey to come together to participate in the fun with Rowan students, who are Unified Partners. 

Co-President of Unified Sports at Rowan Amelia Biermann had high praise for the growth Unified Sports programs have had all across South Jersey.

“There’s a lot of programs that Special Olympics New Jersey runs at different colleges. There’s one at RCSJ, Stockton, TCNJ, Rutgers, and I think Kean has one too, along with Montclair,” Biermann said.

Biermann also spoke about what separates Rowan’s program from the rest.

“What makes us a little bit different is we have competitive soccer games every Sunday, leading up to our Unified Cup which SONJ run. Most of the other Unified Clubs across New Jersey only host practices and just pick a team to go via random drawings but we actually have a bracket system setup for our last game that produces which team of ours goes to the Unified Cup so we actually do competitive soccer every week leading up to it,” Biermann said.

The competition seems fierce for Rowan’s club with four teams representing the club attending this past Sunday’s matches and playing against one another to continue to practice before the postseason kicks off.

One participant from the club, John Sztenderowicz, has been participating in the Unified Sports program here at Rowan for the past six years. He spoke about some of the nerves he felt during his first year and some of his favorite memories over the years.

“My favorite memories were in 2019 and 2023 when I won the gold medal during the cup. I was very nervous about my first year but I was very happy to make new friends and friendships with sportsmanship,” Sztenderowicz said.

Rowan Unified Sports’ main goal is to help people with disabilities throughout New Jersey find a way to participate in competitive fun and promote inclusion, exercise, and sportsmanship as well. Unified Sports teams are continuing to grow across the state on both the collegiate and high school levels as well.

This is a great program to get involved in with sportsmanship and inclusion. It’s exciting to see how it continues to grow throughout the years because, from the amount of participants that attended, it’s a roaring success.

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