Xavier Track and Field

It was a track meet that tested student-athletes’ endurance and their emotions.

myTEAM TRIUMPH and Xavier High School teamed up to host a track meet for disabled athletes.

Spina bifida and cerebral palsy aren’t holding Jennifer Ulrich back.

“I make it work,” Ulrich said.

She regularly participates as a disabled athlete in area races. Tuesday night, she took part in a mini track meet at Xavier High School through myTEAM TRIUMPH.

Ulrich said, “I get out into a community that I thought myself I never could. Being disabled in a wheelchair, I thought this running was out of my league.”

This was myTEAM TRIUMPH’s first inclusive track meet event with a local school.

The event consists of a variety of sprinting and distance races, each performed as teams.

Christian Jensen, executive director at myTEAM TRIUMPH, said, “To get involved in a fun atmosphere to build inclusion, to build relationships between people with disabilities and celebrate all abilities with these people.”

Nicole Ebben, the head track & field coach at Xavier High School, said, “We thought it would be awesome for a track team, who takes walking and running every day for granted, to be able to pair with people who can’t do that on their own accord, and make that relationship grow.”

Hoping that the disabled athletes and able-bodied athletes can both impact each other.

Nick VandeHey, a Xavier alumnus, said, “You see them and they just bring great joy. Just seeing the smiles on their faces, and seeing them light up, it’s a great feeling.”

In working with the disabled athletes, VandeHey says he’s learned a valuable lesson.

“Never give up, no matter what you’re dealing with. No matter what struggles you have, keep pushing, keep working hard,” VandeHey said.

Ulrich said, “Go for your goals, no matter how big or small. Go for them, because you can achieve so much if you believe in yourself, and if you get others to believe in you.”

A lesson that will stick with all these athletes for a long time.

myTEAM TRIUMPH says it hopes to host more events like these with school districts around the state.