Evan Kaptinski on the field at CenturyLink stadium

Sehome High School graduate and Unified Soccer player Evan Kaptinski earned a spot on Team USA for the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi next March.

Evan is one of 20 players on Team USA. He will train throughout the fall, traveling to Seattle for practices as well as to the Special Olympics USA Training Camp at the University of Delaware for a week-long training camp. He looks forward to traveling with his team to both the East Coast and the Middle East.

“I am excited about playing with some really good players,” Evan said. “Hopefully I’ll get a chance to meet more Seattle Sounders players, and I’m also excited about playing in a big stadium.”

Evan’s family is excited about his opportunity and grateful to the Bellingham Public Schools staff who played a role in helping Evan achieve this milestone. Unified Sports coordinator and Special Education teacher Dominique Lantagne and Sehome teacher and Unified Soccer coach Ed Wissing encouraged Evan to try out for Team USA, Evan’s mother Laura Kaptinski said.

“It requires a bit of commitment on our part in terms of driving Evan back and forth to Seattle for practices,” Laura Kaptinski said. “But it’s worth it!”

Evan began playing soccer in elementary school through Whatcom County Youth Soccer Association, and represented Sehome High School on both the Unified Soccer team and the boys JV team.

“My favorite thing about soccer is playing the game,” Evan said. “I also love to watch a good team play.  I guess I love everything about it.”

Laura Kaptinski credited the district’s Unified Sports program with creating inclusive opportunities for all students to enjoy sports. Evan also participated in basketball, bowling and track through Bellingham Public Schools, and downhill skiing through the Baker 542 Ride Community Special Olympics Program.

“Evan enjoyed his Unified Soccer experience so much that he was willing to branch out,” Laura said. “Without the support from his excellent coaches and Dominique, we believe Evan would have had a different, less inclusive, high school experience.”

Unified Sports is a division of Special Olympics where people with and without intellectual disabilities play on the same teams. Bellingham Public Schools has Unified bowling, basketball, and soccer teams. Worldwide, over 1.5 million people take part in Unified Sports, according to the Special Olympics website. For more information about this program in Bellingham Public Schools, please contact Dominique Lantagne at Dominique.Lantagne@bellinghamschools.org or 360-739-5942. For more information about the 2019 Special Olympics World games in Abu Dhabi, go here.

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