The South Washington Thunderbolts are STATE CHAMPIONS!

The district’s adapted soccer team, comprised of students with cognitive impairments from all seven district secondary schools, won the state tournament held at Stillwater High School a few weekends ago.

The school did a “state send-off” for the team on Friday as the players headed to their buses before the game. The hallways were filled with our pep band playing the school song and many classes wishing the Thunderbolts good luck with high-fives.

The team entered the state tournament undefeated with the overall number one seed and came out strong in the first game, beating Dakota United by the score of 7-0. The semi-final game went back and forth, and the Thunderbolts beat South Suburban 6-5 in the last minute of play.

South Washington County took home the championship trophy with a 3-1 victory over Chaska/Chanhassen in the title game. Park has four students that played on the state tournament team: Matt Jenkins, Nathaniel Ponder, Carson Rinnels, and Tyler Tinucci.

Tinucci was selected to the All-Tournament team. It was great to see the number of students that came out from all three district high schools to support this team at the state tournament.

South Washington County was definitely the loudest cheering section in the gym. Many of the players commented that the school send-off must have brought them good luck! We also recognized the four players on the morning announcements the week after their big win.

But this team is not just about winning a state championship. It is about participating and being a part of a team.

This team is treated exactly like all of our other varsity sports, and the players earn their “P” letter (or “W” or “ER” for the other district schools) just like our other student-athletes. These students are proud to wear their letter jackets around school with all of their state tournaments patches.

But whether they are winning or losing, the players always have a smile on their face. This is truly one of my favorite teams to watch.

Congratulations to this team and their coaching staff for another great season. While we are sad to see this undefeated season come to an end, we can be happy knowing that the floor hockey season will be here before we know it.