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The Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville soccer, floor hockey and softball teams each trailed separate paths with different pressures and expectations.

Blazing Cats soccer sought the undefeated standard it established the season before. Blazing Cats floor hockey had never won a state championship. And Blazing Cats softball set out to reassert its dominance en route to a third consecutive state title, only to open with a 3-3 start that included losses in its first two games.

But they prevailed, together adding an unprecedented accomplishment to the adapted sports program's 17-year history by sweeping the 2022-23 state championships in the Minnesota State High School League's cognitively impaired (CI) division.

That made the Blazing Cats the All-Metro Sports Awards Adapted Sports Team of the Year.

"It's just to prove that these kids have more abilities than a disability, make sure that they know they can go out and do stuff just like anybody else," said David Diehl, Blazing Cats floor hockey and softball head coach.

Diehl and soccer coach Shawn Tatge, both of whom are adapted physical education teachers, have led the Blazing Cats program since it was founded in 2006. They have been part of seven state championships, six of those in the past half-decade alone.

"We have an abundance of really good players that get along, have a great chemistry, trust one another and are just right now at the point where they're used to success," Tatge said of his streaking soccer squad, which hasn't lost a game since 2019. "I think they almost expect to win."

Still, Diehl said championships come and go. Win or lose, equal access to experiences is the reason Diehl and Tatge became and continue to be adapted coaches and teachers for the Burnsville, Farmington and Lakeville communities.

"They're getting the same experience as all the other students that are involved in athletics, and that's what it's about," Tatge said.