BY LORI BASHIAN
Homenetmen “Hrashq” officially kicked off the 2019 to 2020 season over the weekend. The first practice of the season took place on Sunday, September 15 at the Pacific Community Center and Park in Glendale.
The practice started off with a coaches meeting in which Head Coach and Athletic Director Dave Beard presented the volunteers with his expectations for the practice session, and the season as a whole. Coach Beard also introduced the idea of implementing a word of the day, an encouraging word to be incorporated throughout the course of each practice. This week’s word was Hrashq.
Each practice day is separated into two sessions. The first session takes place from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and focuses on the younger athletes, while the second session, starting at 12 and ending at 1 p.m., focuses on the older athletes. Both sessions follow the same practice schedule, with slight modifications made in the second session in order to further challenge the older athletes.
This week’s practice was all about reintroducing the different sports to the athletes and getting them excited for the upcoming season. The gym was separated into three different stations, each station representing, basketball, track & field, and soccer. While at the basketball stations, the athletes were tasked with shooting drills, had to run from cone to cone at the track & field station, and had to kick the ball into the goal as many times as they could in ten minutes.
There are currently 45 athletes of all ages and abilities enrolled in the program. Homenetmen “Hrashq’s” mission, from the beginning, has been to provide a space for children with special needs with various diagnoses including autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability and others, to participate in athletic competitions within the Armenian community, with the hopes of removing the stigma attached to these diagnoses and encourage acceptance and inclusion.
In order to better achieve their mission, Homenetmen “Hrashq” has developed an inclusion model for this season, in which middle school and high school volunteers will be able to practice alongside their special needs peers.
The Kaham game competitions will also follow the inclusion model by allowing a few of the “Hrashq” athletes to compete with their neurotypical peers from Armenian schools, as well as by holding the “Hrashq” competition event at the same time as the other Armenian schools.
The Kaham games are only a few weeks away so practices in the future will be focused on preparing the athletes for competition.
Prospective volunteers or athletes may contact the Homenetmen Western Region’s office by calling 323.344.4300 or by emailing Nanor Kabakian.