This past weekend nearly 100 athletes took part in New York’s Special Olympics chapter annual two-day basketball competition for the New York City region at Mount Saint Vincent College in North Riverdale.
Up to 100 athletes and their teams from throughout the five boroughs and Long Island
These teams, representing the five boroughs and Long Island came together in the campus athletic center to compete in skills competitions and head-to-head games. The athletes represent only a small fraction of the 42,000 members in the state. Half of those athletets live in New York City.
“These athletes are a part of training clubs in the region, they practice a couple times during the week. They don’t usually have one-on-one games with each other,” said Casey Vattimo, a spokesperson for Special Olympics New York.
Winners of the skills competitions and the team games from this past weekend will go on to the larger state competition at Ithaca College on June 10.
For those with intellectual disabilities, of various ages, the Special Olympics provides a space to compete as athletes and grow, regardless of athletic ability. The New York chapter’s website declares: “Every child deserves to play!”
“Athletes with intellectual disabilities don’t always have the same access to traditional sports programs, and it’s free for them and their families to participate,” Vattimo explained. They provide a service for people who otherwise might not get the chance to enjoy the fun and challenge that sports can offer.
The state organization is run by 63 staff members, many who are coaches or event organizers.
They are all volunteers, many of who are friends or family of the athletes. Many of the athletes this past weekend were more than enthusiastic to participate in the three-point contest, dribbling drills, and fun half-court shot games the event had set up for them.
When one volunteer sank a half-court shot after missing all their shots for 10 minutes, the crowd erupted from their lunches with cheers, laughter, and clapping.
On a gloomy Sunday where many people were, otherwise, at home and indoors, this community got to come together and rejoice.