Oct 17, 2012 0 Share

He's Got Game

Special Olympics team at opening ceremony World Summer Games 2011.
Photo courtesy SOI Photo Stream

Throughout the year, I like to participate in a variety of sports and athletic activities sponsored by various organizations including challenger league baseball and Special Olympics basketball, indoor hockey, bowling, and soccer. I enjoy doing all of these sports because they all require different kinds of physical activity and I get to participate in them with some very nice people. I have been thinking a lot about the sports I love, and I have recently taken the time to give back to the organization that has given me the opportunity to participate in activities that, given my physical issues, I would otherwise not be able to enjoy.

I play all of my sports with other special needs athletes ranging from rambunctious personalities to quieter, more subdued people who nonetheless become just as rowdy as everyone else when they play. Whenever I play, I feel very excited in a way I do not usually feel, probably the result of being in constant motion and being around people I enjoy spending time with. 

Sometimes my enthusiasm for playing sports can affect my performance. If I allow my excitement to get the better of me, I am likely to make a mistake such as missing a goal in soccer or not properly aiming my shot in basketball. I can handle these mistakes most of the time because I usually just have to reset myself and refocus on the basic form that I should be using so I have a more positive result. Sometimes, however, a slip-up can become costly. I remember one day when I was playing soccer, I was running too fast down the field and I tripped in one of the ruts in the ground, twisting my ankle in the process. It took me a few weeks to fully heal that ankle and even now it still feels painful to me if I move it the wrong way. Whenever I play soccer these days, and occasionally during other sports when I am running very fast, I make a point to slow down and pay attention to my surroundings so I do not hurt myself. Being careful is something I try to keep in mind during all of my sports, but I also have a lot of fun.       

I also enjoy doing new things in sports or taking a different approach to certain aspects of a sport to see if I can improve. For example, I started using a heavier bat during baseball games this year. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I could handle the heavier bat and was successful when using it. Also, during the past soccer season, some of the skill practice drills changed slightly. Various small changes such as the way the soccer balls were distributed in one drill and the size of the makeshift goals in another caused me to rethink my approach to these tasks. The changes made soccer much more exciting for me, and I hope the new drills will be worked into next year’s practices.       

Sports are a big part of my life, and I want to make sure that the opportunity to play them in an organized capacity and for people like me stays in my area. To this end, I decided to help out with a Special Olympics fundraiser at a local restaurant. I was part of a group of people that included others from different Special Olympics groups in the area as well as a good friend of mine. We were assisted by the restaurant’s employees and the local police department. As we asked for donations, we passed out flyers for upcoming Special Olympics events and coupons for goodies found in the restaurant. Fortunately for us, there was a steady stream of customers flowing in and out of the restaurant that donated. The fundraiser was very fun and it was great to see so many other people who care as much as I do about Special Olympics.

Playing sports has become very important to me not only for the physical exercise it gives me but also for the friendships that I have made. They have also added some much-needed variety to my life and have taught me that I can do things that I did not think I could. I know that I will participate in Special Olympics all of my life.