■ Kyle Selby / Reporter
Hemet West Valley High School on Feb. 3 hosted the 13th annual Hemet Unified School District’s (HUSD) Super Kids Bowl. The event gave special needs middle and high schoolers a chance to score touchdowns against the West Valley Mustang football team as the crowd, school marching band, and cheerleaders at each end-zone filled the stadium with cheers.Each year, HUSD West Valley, Hemet, and Tahquitz high schools rotate to determine the setting of the annual activity, and West Valley was this year’s host.
“We’re very pleased to have them,” said West Valley Principal Janice Jones. “This is the first year that I’ve been able to participate and host it, and we’re just very excited to have them here.”
The students, most of whom have moderate to severe disabilities, would act as either quarterbacks, running backs or wide-receivers, where football players would hand off the ball to the students and allow them to score their very own touchdowns, cutting through the “opposing team’s” defense in the process.
Idyllwild School Principal Matt Kraemer initiated the Super Kids Bowl 13 years ago. He wanted to give children with special needs the opportunity to experience the thrill of scoring on the field, an opportunity they otherwise might not have. Matt Willard, West Valley’s head football coach, was more than happy to participate this year.
“It’s all about building community, and our kids are very psyched about that today,” said Willard.
“And it really is a community effort,” added Kraemer. “It’s a day where we’re just celebrating our kids with special needs, and fully including them in our community.”
Each student also got to take a picture with a cheerleader after scoring their touchdowns, which will be developed into 8×10 photos that will be presented to them later in the year.
Along with West Valley, Hemet, and Tahquitz high schools, Acacia, Dartmouth, Rancho Viejo, Diamond Valley middle schools also participated.
“One of the things that I’m excited about is getting all of the schools in the community to come together, as well as the band, the cheerleaders, and the football players,” said Jones.