I hate sports. I hated gym class. The one time I played an organized sport was soccer when I was around five years old. My two best friends at the time played as well. One of the friends actually played, while the other one and I ran around the field holding hands and not paying any attention to the game. The first friend mentioned went on to play football and baseball in high school, while me and the other friend were more of band folks. If an activity included the words “athlete”, “running”, or “sport”, I was against it. For the most part, I still am.]
Today, I signed up to be an assistant volleyball coach. You might be wondering “What the heck? She just spent a whole paragraph explaining her hatred of sports!”. This is true. I am still not a fan of any sport. However, I have a very special reason I signed up.I signed up for the position through the Special Olympics chapter in my area. Special Olympics is an organization that lets people with intellectual disabilities participate in athletic events. It goes all the way from local play to nationwide competitions. It is a great organization, and I have thought about volunteering for years. I never thought I would be any good at it.
Recently, a close family friend and her long time boyfriend passed away within days of each other. Both had Down Syndrome and were long term participants in the sports. Dottie had multiple ribbons and trophies from when she played. Her obituary picture was her holding the torch at the beginning of the games.
After the couple passed, I knew I couldn’t just sit there and not do anything to honor her. I wanted to help other people feel the way she did during her time on the teams. Dottie used to bring pictures of her playing and her ribbons to church and proudly show them off. I want to help the volleyball team feel the confidence that Dottie felt. I also want to help the people know how important they are in the community and that people love them. Dottie might not be around anymore, but I can help keep her memory alive on the volleyball court. She was special to me, and I want to help the people participating feel special as well.
So I might not be an athletic genius. I might not even be an athletic beginner. I do know how to bump, and how to serve, and how to be compassionate toward people. I think the last one is the most important in the Special Olympics.
I can’t wait until Sunday so I can meet the people and get started on my journey to learning volleyball at the same time I am teaching it.