Above: Unified athletes and partners under the newly unveiled National Unified Champion School banner Friday.
East Greenwich High School pulled out all the stops to celebrate its designation as a National Unified Champion School Friday (3/10/23), with dignitaries including Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos and Special Olympics North America Chairman Tim Shriver among those in attendance.
The real stars of the day, though, were the students and former students who have been part of the Unified Sports program at EGHS for more than a decade. Masters of Ceremony Matthew Carosotto and Oliveia Shaunghnessy, both seniors at the high school, kept the program moving, with an assortment of speakers, including Mike Carne and Matt Cruise, both members of the EGHS Class of 2013. They played on the team that went to and won Nationals two years in a row.
“With Unified Volleyball, it’s not about the score,” said Cruise. “It’s truly about how you play and that you play for one another and you play the right way. That’s really the message I’m trying to get across – that with Unified, it’s so much bigger than the scoreboard; there’s so much more to it. That it’s really about the memories you get off the court.”
“I’m truly humbled to have been part of the beginning wave of Unified Sports here at East Greenwich High School,” said Carne. He praised retired adaptive PE teacher Lisa McKay – “none of this would have been possible in the beginning if it were not for the great Lisa McKay” – and EGHS Unified Volleyball Coach Patty Carosotto. “I’m thankful that you were the one who wanted to be the coach … when Unified Volleyball came to the high school,” he said. “Playing Unified is the right and only way – you have also created a winning culture as well.”
Coach Carosotto got a surprise special honor during the ceremony when Special Olympics Executive Director Ed Pacheco announced she had been named the coach of the year for Special Olympics North America. As Tim Shriver noted in his speech, “Patty, we’re all with you. The entire North America – that’s Canada, the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean. That’s a lot of coaches!”
During her speech, Coach Carosotto lauded the athletes and partners who “put themselves on the line every day.”
“I have said this so many times over the years,” she said. “I have, by far, the best coaching job at the high school…. I’m the luckiest coach to be surrounding by so many inspirational players today and over the years. You are the true heroes. You are the ones who set the example for your classmates and community to see. And you are the ones who spread hope for all.”
Congratulations, East Greenwich High School! One-Two-Three, Unified! Four-Five-Six, Family!