YORK, Pa. – The York College athletic department, in conjunction with the Spartan S.A.A.C. (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee) program hosted the Special Olympics for the first time on Saturday, May 11. Hundreds of athletes from York Country competed in track & field, swimming and tennis events. Thanks to the amazing efforts of the Spartan student-athletes and employees, the event was one of the most successful and exciting events the Special Olympics organization has seen.
"It was an amazing day," said S.A.A.C. advisor and head men's lacrosse coach Brandon Childs. "There were so many athletes giving their best, just having a lot of fun."
Coach Childs said it was such a gift to see the interaction between the Special Olympic athletes and the Spartan athletes.
The amazing experience could be felt by all of those who were a part of the day.
"I got to see sides of our athletes that we never usually get see," said Grumbacher Sport and Fitness Center event/building manager Rachel Findley. "Normally we see their games faces when they compete, but today it was all about making the day special for all the other athletes."
On the track, athletes participated in sprinting events, turbo javelin, broad jump, long jump and shot put. Inside the York College Natatorium, the athletes competed in the pool against each other. After the swimming events were done, a relay team made up of the college athletes competed against the Special Olympics relay team.
"It is truly inspiring to watch these athletes," said women's swimmer Kelsie Pike (Newark, Del./St. Mark's). "Seeing their smiles when they touched the wall made all the hard work that was put into creating and organizing this event worth it."
Pike was one of the swimmers included in the relay race.
"When we lost, they turned around right away to tell us that we are all winners," said Pike. "They are true role models for anyone participating in athletics."
Athletes also competed over on the other side of campus on the Spartan tennis courts. Coach Childs said that after all the planned events were done, the tennis team organized some mixed doubles games. Spartan tennis players paired up with the Special Olympics athletes to compete against each other to add even more excitement to the day.
"My team LOVED playing tennis with the athletes," said women's tennis player Megan McCullin (New Windsor, Md./Westminster Senior). "It was extremely rewarding to be able to give back to such amazing people."
Both Coach Childs and Finley could not reiterate enough how much extra effort the York College athletes and volunteers put into the event to make it an unforgettable day.
It was unanimous by the end of the day that this was the best community service that any of the athletes had participated in at York College.
"It was just awesome day," said men's soccer player Justin Kaiser (Bradenburg, KY/Menchville). "Getting to not only support, but play with all of the athletes."
The outcome was greater then could have ever been expected and it was a truly special day for all that were involved.
"Hosting Special Olympics is a must for every year," said Coach Childs.