Special Olympics track begins

Nina Shearrill, Reporter

Just this year LT has added a second Special Olympics sport for its differently abled students. Before there was only Special Olympics basketball, which only has a winter season, but February this year a Special Olympics track team was added giving the students the ability to continue competing and getting exercise for a larger part of the year. This year is the inaugural season.

“It gives them another season that they can do something active,” Special Education coach Gabby Silva said. “The extra sport gives kids more opportunity to do the things they enjoy doing. There are different events the kids can try and they can do what they shine in.”

Some events available at LT include: shot put, discus, and various running events from 50 to 800 meters.

Not all athletes do both sports, and for some, this is the first LT sport they are participating in. The consistent consensus is that adding a second gives these students something valuable, a choice.

“In track you can choose your own event,” athlete Abby Bryant ‘18 said. “You can do what fits you better.”

The addition of a second sport has a deeper meaning than just more choice for these student athletes.

“There’s more that we can do than just basketball,” athlete Ben Ellenby ‘19 said. “All there was was basketball, now we have evolved to track. More people have an opportunity. For those that don’t play basketball, they can be out on the track.”

Around last November 2018, the idea began being circulated. It was approved by the board and started becoming a reality in January.

“Some of the parents spoke up about [the idea of another sport],” Ellenby said. “The board looked into it and voted for it.”

Even though there has been an increase, the students hope to see more diversity in Special Olympics sports.

“The Special Olympics programs are great,” Ellenby said. “We have two sports, but I’d love to get more. I know they are out there, we just don’t have them.”

There are so many benefits for the athletes by having two sports, more than just the variety it gives them.

“It helps for them to have physical activity for a longer portion of the year,” assistant coach Daniel McCarthy said. “They lose a lot of activity physically and emotionally because they couldn’t be around the friends they’ve made. [Having a second sport] gives them a bigger and broader range of social interaction.”

The social aspect is really important for some students, and the health benefits can impact the athletes’ desire to play the sport.

“Track helps me become a better athlete,” athlete Thomas Goff ’21 said. “It’s good exercise and it helps me have less seizures.”

For others the sport can be used as a stepping stone for fitness outside of just track.

“I do it because it could help me get fit for basketball,” athlete Kendall Wright ‘19 said. “We do more running to help us get in shape and to focus.”