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The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) recently teamed up with the Bristol Warren Huskies Special Olympics Team to play a few games of bocce ball
By Jacqui Cohen,
NCAA Division III National SAAC member, Roger Williams University, swimming and diving student-athlete
The NCAA Division III and Special Olympics partnership has impacted my life as a student-athlete much more than I could have ever expected. Working with Special Olympics athletes has truly shaped who I am and has helped me discover how I intend to give back to my own community.
Not only do Special Olympics athletes possess a dynamic passion and love for their sport (just like Division III student-athletes), but their individual personalities and love for sharing experiences and emotions positively impacts everyone around them. Each athlete is extraordinarily special and brings out something different in each coach, mentor or volunteer along the way. Simply, having the opportunity to interact and engage with them has made my college experience very unique and incredible.
When meeting the Special Olympics athletes for the very first time, the initial expectation is that you will be the teacher and the leader. My experience, however, was quite the opposite. I learned more from these athletes than I could have ever imagined.
For example, the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) recently teamed up with the Bristol Warren Huskies Special Olympics Team to play a few games of bocce ball. I soon found that the Special Olympics athletes knew much more about bocce ball – form, strategy, rules – than me. But was really hit home was their plethora of patience and love for learning, no matter the score of the game. They respected one another; they took so much joy from the opportunity to play; and they epitomized sportsmanship – a true complement to Division III attributes. Even more, they taught me how important citizenship, friendship, and team are to what I do every day and what I want to be.
Now that I have graduated college and plan on pursuing a career in college athletics, wherever I may end up, I intend on having my student-athletes work with Special Olympics athletes. In pursuit of my student-athletes having the same opportunity to discover the true power of the Special Olympics partnership and of dedicating time to help others, I look forward to a lifelong bond and relationship with Special Olympics and the mutual benefit to both the student-athlete and the Special Olympics athlete experience.Last Updated: Jan 24, 2013