For Westfield High School unified co-ed track and field coach Tamie Gipe, the season couldn’t have gone much better, except maybe two more points in the sectional would have been nice.
The Shamrocks placed fourth in the May 22 Noblesville sectional, just missing qualifying for regionals, as the top three teams advance.
“We missed third place by one point,” said Gipe, who became head coach in 2019 after being an assistant coach when the team formed in 2017. “That one point was lost because we had a student unable to come to the meet at sectionals, so we had to scratch that event. It was a difficult day but overshadowed by tremendous performances by the team.”
There were five school records and five first place finishes in the sectional.
Unified sports teams pair students with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team.
“It’s an amazing sport that changes lives,” said Gipe, a Westfield resident. “It’s something that everyone competes aggressively, but you see the most success when you see your teammate succeed. Cheering on people from the other teams is a strong component of who Westfield is. Teams are appreciative of how supportive my team is of other schools. That exemplifies what unified sports are about.”
Gipe said her team had 44 competitors and two managers. There were 20 athletes and 24 partners.
“It was almost a 1-to 1-ratio of athletes to partners, which was wonderful this year,” said Gipe, who teaches sports medicine classes at Westfield High School.
There were 11 team members in 2017. The number grew to 24 in 2018 and 60-plus in 2019. The 2020 season was canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic. Gipe said many teams didn’t have enough participants to field a team this year, so she was pleased with the team numbers.
Regular season meets aren’t scored because teams with competitors in every event would have an unfair advantage. Westfield had a larger team than most of its competitors, so it would score more points.
“So, you really don’t keep track of wins and losses during regular season,” Gipe said. “The regular season is to prepare you for the postseason tournament. Each person has to compete in an event twice to compete in the tournament. The team did what I wanted them to do. Each week we improved. We worked on strategy and performances. They peaked when I wanted them to peak.”
A high point was Westfield capturing the West Lafayette Invitational in April.
“The kids and coaches were so excited,” Gipe said. “There were lots of good performances and school records broken. Each week we broke more and more school records.”
Westfield placed second to Fishers in the Hoosier Crossroads Conference meet. Fishers finished second in the sectional, third in the regional and second in the state.