Student-athletes at Monmouth College watched with a sense of pride Tuesday night when the Monmouth-area Special Olympians took to the court at Glennie Gymnasium during halftime of the Monmouth-Grinnell game.
For the sixth consecutive year, the Monmouth College Student-Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) sponsored a special practice for the Special Olympians. More than 25 student athletes representing nearly all 22 varsity sports at the college were present Sunday to run the Special Olympians through a variety of skills and drills to help improve their game. The Tuesday scrimmage was the culmination of nearly 90 minutes of work with more than 20 Special Olympians.
Sophomore business majors Joe Ward of Cherry Valley, Ill., and Hannah Long from Newton, Iowa, took different routes to becoming involved in the event.
“We did something similar to this at my high school,” explained Ward, who serves as the track team’s SAAC representative. “Being involved in SAAC is a continuation of what I did in high school. My mother is a nurse and works with special needs kids all the time. Working with those who have special needs is kind of second nature to me. I guess you could say I’m carrying on the family tradition.”
It was a completely new experience for Long, a member of the golf and swim teams at Monmouth.
“I had never been around special needs kids before,” admitted Long. “I think I got more out of it than they did. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was a real joy to see the smiles on their faces. It was definitely an enlightening afternoon for me.”
The event has become a tradition for SAAC as well as the entire community, bringing the Monmouth and campus communities together to celebrate the accomplishments of the Special Olympians.