With arms stretched skyward, waving black and gold pompons enthusiastically above her head, the elementary-aged girl with Down Syndrome mimicked the spirit team on the sidelines of an Indian Nations League youth football game.
“She would always be out there with her poms,” Warren said, explaining how she noticed the girl at games at Nienhuis Park. “It was so cute watching how badly she wanted to be out there cheering with her sister.”
Beginning with the 2019-2020 school year that young lady, and other Broken Arrow students with special needs, will have the opportunity to perform at games and participate in spirit competitions alongside the Tigettes.
“I am excited to have the opportunity for kids to do something extra,” said BA Special Olympic coach Christina Gould, who teamed with Warren in creating the unified spirit group. “We are in on the ground level of this for Oklahoma. I love being able to bring all of the kids out of their shells. This is just another opportunity to showcase some of the talent these kids have.
“There are several states who have huge cheerleading competitions for their Special Olympians. Oklahoma Special Olympics is watching us to see where it goes, so hopefully it gets big.”
The unified program allows for special education students and student-peers already in the Broken Arrow athletic spirit programs – dance and cheer – to compete together.
“I like the fact that it’s all the spirit groups coming together and embracing a new group of athletes on campus,” said Melenda Knight, assistant athletic director. “By working with these special athletes, it’s going to unify the spirit groups we currently have on campus.
“This experience will be as valuable for our kids who already are in our programs as much as it will be for the Special Olympic athletes. What they get out of it by practicing with the special needs students, and being part of another group other than themselves, is immeasurable.”
Varsity cheer coaches Kyrstin Delehanty and Amber Slemp are eager to get their squads involved as is former varsity cheer coach Mary Fowler.
“I sent an email out to the high school asking for people who would want to help coach, and Mary was all about it,” Warren said. “We had several teacher and staff who said they wanted to help out, too.”
Both Knight and Gould credit Warren with creating this opportunity.
Says Gould: “Meag approached us. She wanted to do something for our athletes. This was a passion of hers and she brought it to us. So, of course, we’re on board.”
Says Knight: “Meag’s done a fantastic job in working with Christina. To see our coaches work with Special Olympic coaches, and try to grow that program, is very rewarding. It’s selfless.”
Warren credits parents of girls with special needs, including the mother of the girl with Down Syndrome, for building awareness of these girls’ desire to be part of a spirit team. With Gould on board, and the support of the athletic department administration, Warren believed this was the right time.
“I talked to a mom randomly in January, and I said ‘this is the year. I’m going to make it happen. I promise you. I’ll figure it out.’” Warren said.
This year we are refocusing our community service efforts on making sure it directly impacts the BA community and also to really have impact the high school,” the Tigette coach continued. “Our girls are really excited.”
Gould anticipates 10 to 12 special needs students will participate in the program this year. She and Warren both expressed the desire to see the program grow, stating their goal is to ultimately have a sixth hour adaptive physical education class, which would help with the creation of unified flag football and soccer teams.
On the spirit side, Warren said fans will see unified spirit teams on the sidelines of some football and basketball games in 2019-2020. They also will compete in spirit events hosted by the Tigettes. Warren received confirmation from the sponsoring organizations that unified categories will be included in each of the three competitions.
“The ultimate goal is to make sure they have the same opportunity to cheer and dance, to experience that, and to show their school spirit.” Warren said.
Let the pompons wave.
Broken Arrow Tigers football coach David Alexander discusses what he learned about his football team following spring practices and three days of team camp.
What did you learn about this team that has you optimistic about the Tigers repeating their state champion run?
We’re going to be a big, physical team on both sides of the football. We’re blessed with a lot of big guys. You can’t coach size and you can’t coach speed. We’re going to be really big. After watching team camp, that’s going to translate to Friday nights next season. We also have quite a bit of depth at several of the skill positions. We have three or four guys that we can hand the football to that in some years any one of them could have been the starting tailback. We have quite a bit of depth at corner, which is surprising for us because we’ve never had a lot of competition there.
What does the quarterback situation look like heading into fall?
It’s still up in the air. Both Seth Dodd and Jake Raines are going to be juniors, so they had an opportunity to see what it takes to win last year. They both have a little ways to go in being ready but they are both fantastic kids, who grew up here. They both bring a little different aspect to the game. We’ll go through the summer and split time with them and see how comes out. We have a young kid, Griffin Stieber, who’s intriguing. He shows quite a bit of mental toughness for a young guy. Whoever wins the job is going to have to handle the offense, get everyone lined up and take care of the football. It’s been a revolving door for us every year with a new guy, so whether it’s one of the juniors or the sophomore, we’ll know that we will have a guy for the next couple of years. This will be a good year to come in and be a starting quarterback because we’re going to have some guys to hand the football to and a couple of guys at receiver who have experience. We won’t have to put a ton on the shoulders of the quarterback early. We can build and go as the season progresses.
Will this offensive line be as dominant as last year’s group?
We think it’s got a chance to be even more dominate. You have two returning guys back in Trevor Burkhartzmeyer and Andrew Raym, and I don’t know the exact numbers, but Raym probably started 37, 38 games and Burkhartzmeyer probably started 24, 25 games. Those are big numbers for high school guys. You just don’t see that very often. Our right guard will be a kid that weighs 300 to 305 pounds in Ryan Chapman. Left guard is going to be Adam Yancey and he’s 280 pounds. Got a little battle going on at left tackle. A guy that played quite a bit for us last year, Kaleb Gambill, we move to tight end and he’s 6’4”, 240, 245 pound. We get off the bus we’re going to look good. I hope we play as good as we look.
How will your defensive front seven stack up after graduating several players who will be playing football at the next level?
Defensive line wise is going to be just as good. It’s hard to replace DeMeco Roland and the destruction and disruption he caused. Jaylen Moss needs to be that guy. He’s 6’4” and explosive off the football. Andrew Raym will be quite a bit of defensive tackle. We’re going to do it early when it’s hot and get him in shape. He did it a lot at team camp and looked fantastic. Parker Darnell may have had as good a team camp as anybody on the team at defensive end. The second day, I bet he had six sacks against some really good teams.
Did you have some players that stepped up as far as guys that can be difference makers?
Yes. The people that popped out to me: Darryan Moss at linebacker, going to be a junior. I think he’s going to be a difference maker. He has a chance to have a fantastic season. He’s big and runs really well. A couple of young guys: Maurion Horn is supremely talented and is going to be a huge difference maker whether it’s going to be at running back, at corner or maybe both. He’s a guy who’s been off the radar that is going to have huge impact on our season. Corey Williams had a fantastic team camp. He’ll be a guy you’ll see at running back and corner. Our bell cow will probably be KeJuan Tolbert. He set all kinds of records for us in the weight room this winter. I told him he doesn’t have to worry about getting any bigger or any stronger, he just needs to be ready to play 100 plays on Friday night. KeJuan is a captain. He’s a leader. He’s a stud.
Friday nights’ lights will shine much brighter at Broken Arrow High School Memorial Stadium during the 2019 football season and beyond.
The more brilliant illuminance has nothing to do with the glow from which Tiger fans are still basking following the school’s first football state championship last fall. It has to do with the stadium’s first new lighting system since the stadium opened in 2000.
The new four-pole LED light units replace older Halogen sets, and offer an increase from 60 footcandles to 130. The field of play is not the only area spectators will see a noticeable improvement in lighting, however.
“Number one, it’s about the safety of the thousands of people who come to events at Memorial Stadium,” Steve Dunn, executive director of athletics, said. ““The original lights weren’t directed towards the bleachers, so along with improving the light in the stands we will now have lighting around and underneath the stadium in addition to numerous emergency lights."
The new light poles were repositioned from the corners of the stadium to behind both the home and visitor bleachers. The poles are basically in line with the north and south 10-yard lines, and by their location “will cover lighting the bleachers as well,” Dunn said. Last season, the district added 10 smaller LED lights to the top of the press box facade to assist with lighting in the west bleachers.
Broken Arrow Schools repurposed the original stadium lights by moving them to the high school track and field complex located on the southwest side of the BAHS campus.
The defending Class 6A State Champion Broken Arrow Tigers will play three of their first four games on the road and have just one home game before the calendar flips to October.
The 2019 schedule is a reversal of the 2018 version as the Tigers open the football season with two games on the road – the first at Mansfield, Texas, on Aug. 31 and the second at Union on Sept. 6 – before hosting Owasso on Sept. 13 in a battle between the 2017 and 2018 Class 6A state champions.
After an open date on Sept. 20, a 2018 state final rematch awaits at Jenks on Sept. 27. That contest is the only 7:30 p.m. game on the Tigers regular season schedule. All other games are set for 7 p.m. kickoffs.
Broken Arrow begins a string of four of its next five games at home with an Oct. 4 match up against Norman. After a Thursday (Oct. 10) trip to Westmoore, BA hosts Edmond Santa Fe a week later – Thursday, Oct. 17. Homecoming is Oct. 25 against Yukon and Senior Night is Nov. 1 against Edmond Memorial.
The Tigers end the regular season on Nov. 8 at Enid.
The first round of the playoffs are set for Nov. 15 and the state semifinals are scheduled for Nov. 22. A week off will precede the state championship game, which will be either Nov. 6 or 7. Each district’s top two teams will host a first-round playoff game, while the semifinals will be at a neutral sites. The location of the title game has yet to be determined.
Season ticket renewals begin July 15. New season ticket may be purchased Aug. 5.
On its way to the school’s first 13-0 perfect season and state championship, Broken Arrow outscored opponents 491-76 during the regular season.
Broken Arrow will host a four-team scrimmage on Aug. 23 at Memorial Stadium. Teams scheduled to participate are Choctaw, Coweta and North Little Rock.
All Broken Arrow Public Schools athletes are required to have athletic forms filled out online. New forms must be completed each year.
Visit RankOneSport's website to start the online process. Instructions are provided on that website to help complete the athletic forms.
The online forms need to be filled out after tryouts and before the beginning of the new school year.
Physical forms dated after May 1 are also required to be turned in to the coaches for a student to compete in Broken Arrow Public Schools athletics.