Originally published Sept. 2, 2021 by Colorado High School Activities Association.

By Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Sports Information

The smiles, laughter and excitement was back at All-Star Park on Thursday morning.

Jeffco Public Schools’ Adapted Athletics held its first in-person event with Cross Country Day on the Gold Crown Field House complex in Lakewood. The COVID-19 pandemic forced all of Jeffco’s Adapted Athletics events to be virtual for the 2020-21 school year.

Dennis Pleuss photo

“Everyone is excited,” said Bryan Wickoren, Jeffco Adapted Athletic Director and Adaptive Physical Education teacher. “They have been waiting to come back. It’s great to be back in-person.”

Nine high schools and eight middle schools from across Jeffco competed on Thursday, along with Platte Canyon middle and high schools attending. There were a total of six races with middle school girls and boys races, high school girls and boys races, along with wheelchair and assisted walker events.

There were also student/athletics from a few of the area high school who helped run the events.

“There is learning on both sides,” Wickoren said of the student/athletics and full teams that come to volunteer to help run each event. “This program is only successful because of them, their support and their teams.”

Wickoren added that he has varsity coaches reach out to him before schedules are set up to make sure they can help run events. Columbine’s football team and Green Mountain’s track and field squad are two examples of programs that stepped up to the plate to help the program grow.

Soccer, football, bowling, volleyball, basketball, hockey, softball and track & field are the other sports that are on the schedule. The plan is to have at least one event every month through the 2021-22 school year.

“The goal is to have a full schedule,” Wickoren said.

Jeffco’s Adapted Athletics program has grown under Wickoren, which included Katie Thompson (Adaptive Physical Education teacher) being added a few years ago. Wickoren was named the 2019 Adapted P.E. Teacher of the Year by the Central District Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE).

While the pandemic prevented in-person events, the excitement is definitely back.

“It was really tough because they didn’t get the social interaction,” Wickoren said. “It is a great social environment.”

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