OXFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Nine years ago, Jen Lacapra started the Unified Sports program at Oxford High School.  She’s not only the coach of the program, the physical education teacher, health teacher and the Fine Arts and Wellness Department Chair. 

The Unified Sports program is a part of Special Olympics, Lacapra says, “It partners students with and without disabilities on the same team.” 

The students involved play soccer, basketball, volleyball and added this year, kickball. They compete against students at other schools across the state that also have the same program.

Lacapra was just named the 2020 Special Olympics North America Unified Champion Schools Coach of the Year. 

Senior student Roula Tzepos tells News 8, “I think it’s probably the favorite part of my day,” she continues to say, “It’s just a spot where everyone’s very included it’s just pure happiness you walk in and its family vibe.”

Out of 147,000 Unified Sports coaches in North America, Lacapra was chosen as the number one coach of the year, “Is it nice? Yeah, it’s nice to be noticed for what you’re doing, but it’s definitely not the number one thing I think about when coaching unified sports.”  

For her it’s all about her students, “If it wasn’t for them and the community around us we wouldn’t have the program we have today.”

Meantime, her students admire her for her dedication and love for the program, “she’s built this program from the ground up, she should be very proud of that. I think she’s a very smart person and I think we need more people like her.”