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Crash Course in ‘Floorball’ carries Hanks High School to Special Olympics

EL PASO, Texas -- About two months ago, Hanks High School special education staffer Richard Rodriguez had never heard of "Floorball."

So, it's pretty extraordinary that Rodriguez will coach the United States National Floorball Team, made up of students from Hanks, in next February's 2021 Special Olympics.

“Floorball is exactly like hockey except it’s with a wiffle ball. And you’re not using skates,” says Rodriguez, who started the team when Olympic Officials approached him about the sport in January.

Coach Rodriguez and Coach Aida Dolz are prepping for next year’s Special Olympics, where the Hanks Unified team, made up of a mix of special and general education, will represent our country.

“Kids that are Unified work with the special needs kids. It helps them with social skills. It helps them get better as a player and it helps them get better as a person,” says Rodrgiuez.

Assembling the roster didn’t take much time.

“They needed one more person to join and I was like oh, ok this is a great opportunity I never heard of it. But it’d be great to learn something new," says sophomore Crisveli Gaytan.

Hanks team dominated the Special Olympic Qualifier last month in San Antonio, sweeping the competition in 3 games.

Now, the training begins for next year against international competition.

But one thing is for sure, the Hanks unified team is ready to represent.

“We are representing Hanks and El Paso," says freshman Angel Luke Esparza. "And also the United States of America.”

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Nate Ryan

Nate Ryan is an ABC-7 sports anchor/reporter.


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