Teammates On and Off the Field


by Kyle Orens


When it comes to unified sports, the goal is not to win games (even though that is a pretty sweet bonus). Rather, it is to build solid and close relationships with kids that have special needs. This doesn’t mean that you need to know every single kid’s likes and dislikes, because that is near impossible, but if you can build that type of relationship with one kid, the effect on their life and yours can be amazing.

Seniors Jake Wills and Keegan Schmitz have just that, and the difference that they make on each other’s lives is beautiful.

Their relationship started sophomore year of high school, and over the past three years, the two have built a special and unbroken bond. Schmitz described Wills as a fun, energetic, fun loving guy, and even added in that he considers Wills to be one of his closest friends.

The fact that the two connected sophomore year and have remained good friends can be credited to Wills’ open mindedness and accepting personality.

Schmitz said, “He just accepts me for who I am.”

The friendship can also be credited to the impact that Wills has had on Schmitz’s life.

Schmitz said, “He taught me to be a better person.”

Similarly to the way Schmitz described him, Wills described Schmitz as an energetic guy who always finds a way to have a good time. He noted the Schmitz is one of his closest friends as well.

Wills said, “Being friends with Keegan has taught me to take everything you get in life and have a positive outlook on it, always see the glass half full.”

The best thing about Schmitz, at least for Wills, is that he always finds a way to put a smile on your face, mostly due to the fact that he is hilarious.

Now, if you asked anyone who has ever been around Schmitz they would probably give you a similar answer, because it doesn’t take a genius to realize that Schmitz is always smiling. However, it is the meaning behind the smile that makes the difference for Wills.

Wills said, “Keegan has impacted my life in a way that nobody else has, he has the best attitude all the time, which rubs off on you when you’re around him enough.”

When these two were paired up as tennis partners their sophomore year it easily could have gone two ways. Wills could have distanced himself from Schmitz just as easily as he got close with him. They didn’t have to be anything except for tennis partners. However, Wills chose to be open minded and accepting, just like any human being should be, and by doing this he not only gained a friend, but he forged a relationship that will last a lifetime.