Special Olympics is a slam dunk


Taylor Bravo

High school volunteers cheer on the athletes as they compete in their events.

Matt Smith, Staff Reporter

While a snow storm was coming down on North Texas and students were feverishly trying to get out of class to enjoy, or perhaps avoid, the weather, there were several of the school’s own competing in the gym in a Special Olympics basketball tournament.

“It’s really nice for the kids to come out here and get out of their normal routine to compete in the olympics,” junior Drew Hawley said. “I play basketball and I get to come help them play basketball so that is a lot of fun.”

Due to the weather, the competition was not nearly as big as it was going to be. Only half of the schools showed up at the school in the morning. Melissa ISD, Allen ISD, Sherman ISD, and Anna ISD all joined the Leopard Special Olympics team in a friendly clash that spurred great sportsmanship and learning.

Accompanying the many athletes on the floor, were more than 100 volunteers, coaches, teachers and spectators, there for support of the event. Many students from the high school and Willow Springs Middle School wore neon green shirts to represent the helpers they were being that day. They took several different positions around the gym, manning various stations at which the athletes would rotate to.

Once all the teams arrived, introductions were made by the Special Olympics staff and the playing of the national anthem.

In small groups, the athletes from all five schools were tested on their ability to pass, shoot, and dribble with a basketball.

“I had a good time today,” junior Mackenzie Patrick said. “My brother came with me and helped me.”

Some of the athletes excelled at the sport better than others, but they supported each other with superior sportsmanship. For those that took part, it was time well spent.

“I love this experience,” senior Dan Cole said. “I love always doing Special Olympics because it allows you to see and reflect upon yourself and your attitude towards your sport.”

With the snow accumulating outside, the tournament was rushed through in order to get all the athletes the chance to compete and then enjoy a meal prepared by the Special Olympics staff before they would have to get back to their respective schools. The athletes were awarded medals and headed on their own separate ways until the next time they would meet for a Special Olympics competition.

“The kids have a smile on their face no matter what they’re doing,” Cole said. “Whether it is the dribbling, the passing, or the shooting. It doesn’t matter. They are always having a blast. It’s great to see them so happy.”