Basketball Players Reflect on "Special" Day

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Fifty-two years ago this month, Eunice Kennedy Shriver (sister of President John F. Kennedy) started a day camp for children with intellectual disabilities, leading to the formation of Special Olympics in 1968. Division III entered into a partnership with Special Olympics in 2011, and since then tens of thousands Division III athletes and Special Olympics athletes have participated in events that foster a mutual learning experience.

Special Olympics The Muhlenberg basketball teams hosted a practice for Special Olympics of the Lehigh Valley this past semester, and two of the Mules who participated wrote about it:

Katy Mitton ’14
As someone who grew up in the Lehigh Valley, I’ve met a lot of the Special Olympians before, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled to be able to work with them again. Having worked with Coach McClary for the past four years at his summer camp, I knew we all were in for a great time – both the college athletes and the Special Olympians.

The practice consisted of dribbling and ball-handling skills, relay races and different stations. One thing I’ve learned from Coach McClary over the years is that it’s not all about the players learning the techniques and game aspect of basketball; it’s about them having fun. The smiles and hugs that we as college athletes received proved to me that we accomplished our goal of showing the group how to have fun while playing basketball.

We taught them that it isn’t all about winning, but the amount of effort they put into it, the courage they have to participate, and the amount of enjoyment they have while doing what they’re doing is what is important, just like the Special Olympic motto says: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Special Olympics This day was without a doubt one of the greatest highlights of my senior year. The Muhlenberg athletic department has a great relationship with Allentown and the Lehigh Valley, and working with different community groups, and I hope that the relationship with Special Olympics continues for years to come because it allows us as student-athletes to give back to the community, but more importantly “pay it forward” the game of basketball that we love.

Jon Schreer – rising sophomore
This was an experience I could not forget. This exciting day not only stands out in minds of the Special Olympians, but in the coaches’ and players’ minds as well.

The athletes look up to the players and coaches as if we are LeBron James or Michael Jordan. They became so thrilled to come play with us college athletes and we were more thrilled to host them.

This was an eye-opening experience for me. It is a great feeling to give back to these athletes, and it was a lot of fun in the process. I cannot wait for our next year’s practice, and hopefully we will have more opportunities to work with these athletes in the future.
Click here for video coverage of the event by Service Electric TV2 and WFMZ Channel 69.