When Abby Jeffers came to Severna Park High School, her aims of sporting competition lay on the golf links. Then she discovered a new facet of sports that played right into her personality.
The rising junior’s most rewarding athletic moments came not in the more individual game of golf, but in a discovered love of unified sports, where Jeffers was able to combine her love of competition with a desire to be a positive force in the Severna Park community.
According to the Special Olympics of Maryland, in unified sports, "teams are composed of a proportional number of students with intellectual disabilities, with other types of disabilities, and without disabilities who train and compete together on the same team."
Jeffers was one of the partners on the team, helping build both internal and external community and camaraderie through sports. She serves as a guide, as a friend, and as a sounding board to the participating students with special needs.
Whether in golf, her primary competitive sport, or unified athletics, Jeffers takes the same approach: be her best self for the benefit of others.
“It’s me trying to be my best,” she said. “With golf, it’s me trying to be my best to help the team, but with unified, it’s me showing others how they can be their best too and helping them to the point where they can reach their best.”
Jeffers' first experience with unified sports was with the unified bowling team last winter. She loved it so much that she continued into the spring on the unified bocce team, which won the state championship this spring.
Combining three sports with a job at a kids gym, volunteer work, and annually raising money for Special Olympics through the Polar Bear Plunge, can be a lot. But Jeffers prefers to keep it simple: be kind to people and make an impact.
“I hate to see people treated poorly, because I believe everybody should have mutual respect for other people,” Jeffers said. “I like seeing other people happy, and having an impact on someone’s life really means something to me. I get excited about doing Polar Bear Plunge, and knocking on doors and raising money, but doing these unified things, I feel like I have a direct impact and it’s a lot more than just raising money.”
In partnership with Wyble Team of Century 21, the Voice’s Student-Athlete of the Month series recognizes the many student-athletes in our area who make an impact not necessarily by way of statistics or stardom, but by their unique contributions. Contact Zach Sparks at firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate a young person in our community making a positive impact through sports.
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