Marymount University's student-athletes recently took time away from their respective seasons to help out at the 16th Annual Special Olympics Regional Basketball Tournament held on Saturday. Organized by Marymount Campus Ministry, the tournament featured 40 athletes and eight teams from all over the Northern Virginia area.
During its February spring meeting, the Capital Athletic Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee endorsed a partnership with each institution's local Special Olympics organization. All SAAC organizations at CAC member schools have pledged to help coordinate an annual activity with the Special Olympics program near their respective campuses. The CAC affiliation comes on the heels of the NCAA Division III SAAC announcing its partnership with Special Olympics at the 2011 NCAA Convention in San Antonio, Texas.
Marymount student-athletes supported the teams and individual athletes by making sings, cheering on the sidelines and eating lunch with the athletes. Between the events, games and halftime dance-offs, it was truly a tremendous day full of fun for everyone involved.
"It was such a rewarding experience," said freshman lacrosse player Chelsea Ritter, "getting to see how much fun they were having playing the sport they loved. I can tell you that as a freshman I can't wait to be a part of Special Olympics for the next three years."
The tournament was held in the Verizon Sports Arena and was a much anticipated campus-wide event. With both the upper and lower gyms packed with friends, family, and athletes, Marymount student-athletes were able to stand out in their Marymount gear. Providing families with directions to restrooms, the dining hall and other campus facilities, multiple parents showed their appreciation for the Saints.
Chantilly United won the junior division while the Loudoun Terminators claimed the senior crown. Watching the games, however, it was apparent that winning was not the primary focus: the fun, camaraderie and community involvement made it a lasting and rewarding experience.