When new Wellesley High School graduate Austin Pineau heads to the University of Wisconsin this fall he’ll be leaving behind two families: His immediate family as well as the WHS Unified Track Team he co-founded 3 years ago for students with disabilities.
“I’ve learned so much through my experience with Unified Track,” Pineau says. I’ve really come to think of them as family.”
Wellesley High’s athletics department recognized Pineau’s dedication to this program at the Raider Pride ceremony just before graduation by honoring him with the Athletic Award of Distinction. This award was created specifically for Pineau by Athletic Director John Brown to recognize Pineau’s role in co-founding, managing, and coaching the WHS Unified Track Team.
Pineau co-founded the program during his sophomore year with the help of WHS Coach Jesse Davis, and they’ve watched it grow since. The team started with 5 members, and that number tripled this season. The team has 3 to 4 track meets each season and participates in regional and state tournaments.
Pineau emphasized that other students, including classmate Simon Ellis, played important roles in making the program a success. This included coaching, training and running with athletes during their races.
Always a sports lover, Pineau made the varsity boys’ soccer team as a freshman, and joined the track team his junior year. But he saw an opportunity for more students to get involved across the school.
“I realized WHS did not have any athletic programs that included everybody, and I wanted to give all kids a chance to enjoy sports” Pineau explains.
One of the Unified Track coaches, Ashley Pierce, says Pineau makes all the students feel safe and is much loved for this. “Austin has a real altruistic desire to help others. He truly wants our students to feel included in their high school – and Unified Track gives them a great opportunity to be involved.”
Pineau’s devotion to the team is obvious as he speaks of it, but also in his actions. The last meet of the season happened to fall on the same day as Pineau’s senior prom, and he says, “the choice was simple” to stay for the meet and arrive at prom a few hours late.
Looking ahead, Pineau is considering the idea of trying out for the soccer team at the University of Wisconsin and hopes to someday become a math teacher. Coach Pierce supports this dream, though believes Pineau would also make an amazing special education teacher.
“He truly wants to make a difference in others’ lives and has a sincerity about the way he interacts with everyone that makes his presence an asset” she says.
Pineau graduates WHS with a special award of distinction and as a role model for those that follow him.