Already three Special Olympic medals to his credit, NDSS student Blaine Carscallen recently added another line to an already impressive athletic resume — a selection onto the Toronto FC’s unified team.
The Grade 12 student impressed the coaches at a tryout last month at the professional soccer club’s training facility, where he was selected to join a provincial team that will take part in an exhibition match against a squad from Illinois in Chicago later this month.
“What they do is travel down to Chicago for a few days,” said Mike Newstead, School to Community teacher at NDSS. “When they go down there it’s the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics Illinois, so they’re going to get a chance to play a unified team down there and then they get to take in a game, a Chicago Fire, Toronto FC match. It’s an all-expenses -paid trip.”
The unified teams strive to bring together players with intellectual disabilities to represent their province to build confidence, encourage sportsmanship and tear down misconceptions.
Carscallen was one of five NDSS students to try out for Toronto FC’s united team. He’s represented the school at the highest level several times in his high school career, excelling in three sports.
“We have travelled to provincials three years in a row,” said Newstead. “Two years ago he won gold in soccer, last year he won gold in basketball and this year he won a silver in floor hockey. He’s got all those things in addition to this trip so he’s obviously earned the right to represent the local area because he’s definitely an accomplished athlete.”
The Chicago trip will run from July 19-22.
Carscallen and his NDSS teammates will have a lot to play for next year, as they’ll have the opportunity to represent their school on the international stage in Toronto when the Special Olympics hold the World Invitational Games in Toronto next May.