Ouachita Hosts Special Olympics Basketball

February 19, 2013

For two hours on Feb. 21, the Sturgis Physical Education Center (SPEC) will be transformed into an epic arena of competition and hard work. No, this is not the site for gladiatorial games but rather the 11th annual Special Olympic games at Ouachita.

Activities throughout the day will range from 5 on 5 games featuring higher skilled individuals in courts one and two to individual activities in Bill Vining Arena consisting of passing, dribbling and shooting.

Dr. Mike Reynolds, professor of kinesiology and leisure studies, will then speak to the volunteers and participants and following Reynolds will be a pep rally for the athletes led by the Ouachita cheer and dance squad. The games are scheduled to kick off at 10:15 a.m.

“We’ll probably have over 250 students with disabilities that will participate in the games,” Reynolds said. “The athletes have to be intellectually disabled in order to compete in the activities.”

“Last year we had really a one-to-one ratio with over 200 Ouachita volunteers. The volunteers always ask, ‘What can I do,’ and I just say cheer, high five, and do the wave. We’ll have parachutes, hula hoops, jump ropes, and balls to roll around,” Reynolds said.

The activities will be run by students in classes taught by Reynolds and Dr. Terry Dewitt,  professor of kinesiology and leisure studies. Adjustments will also be made to help the athletes compete to the best of their ability.

“You’ll see all types of adaptations that we’ll do. We’ve got modified goals, we’ll change the basketballs, we’ll move down to tennis balls, volleyballs, we will do all we can to modify so that someone has success,” Reynolds said.

Sophomore Kate Cody has helped out with the Special Olympics the last two years and also has experience with the games dating back to her high school days.

“I just love being able to see the joy in those kids being able to conquer things despite their abilities,” Cody said.

Cody believes having the right attitude about volunteering can change one’s perspective on serving others with disabilities.

“Having patience is important for volunteering,” Cody said. “It’s definitely not something they’re gonna pick up on very quickly obviously because of disabilities, but at the same time, they all just have a joyful heart being there.”

Knockout, the basketball game where players try to make the shot before others, is always a crowd favorite from Cody’s experience.

“Even though none of them can ever typically make it, it’s always so much fun because you have all these big athletes and college students cheering them on, which makes the atmosphere enjoyable. The participants are just so excited because they’ve never had someone cheer them on and get pumped for them to play,” Cody said.

For more information about the events, contact Reynolds at reynoldsm@obu.edu.

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