When it comes to my volunteer experience Special Olympics have always been something I have always been passionate about and something that I love to do. Throughout the past year, I have had the pleasure volunteering with the Special Olympics several times. These include unified sports (read more about here), the Special Olympics Winter Games, and officiating the Special Olympics state regional tournament.
One of my favorite volunteer experiences is the Special Olympic Winter Games. The Winter Games take place the first week of February in Traverse City at the Grand Traverse resort. This was my second year attending the Winter Games and it again far exceeded my expectations.
The Winter Games are always a highlight of my year. It’s no wonder why hundreds of students wake up at 8 a.m. to race to get the volunteer spots. For the second consecutive year, I got a spot with my number one choice, snowshoe. As a snowshoe volunteer, I might be a little bias but I am convinced that snowshoe is the premier event at the game. From the early morning to dinner, with a break for lunch, we worked cycling scores of athletes through the events all week. Although being out in cold was a bit exhausting at times, there was never a dull moment working with the athletes. This year I had the pleasure of working awards. My job was to round up the athletes that recently finished heats and get their shoes off, get them to awards, and get them lined up on their podiums.
On top of the Winter Games, I was able to officiate at the Special Olympics state regional tournament. I was an official for intramural sports at Central and as a part of the Special Olympics College RSO on campus was asked to help out at the tournament. Helping out at the tournament was an absolute blast. I ended up officiating about 6 games. Volunteering, as always, was a very rewarding experience and it was awesome to see the athletes compete with each other. One specific experience that was awesome was when a game I was officiating began to get out of hand, some athletes on the leading team began to assist members on the other team to get baskets. Not only did they help the team get baskets but they made sure every single opposing player had an opportunity to get a basket. Despite the high competitive nature for a majority of the tournaments seeing the athletes caring for each other was an awesome experience.
Having these opportunities to volunteer with Special Olympics never fails to surprise me and fulfill my passion. As a future Special Educator, every opportunity to interact with the athletes reminds me again and again.