Students Hosting Special Olympics Tourneyby Gabe Watson '13, The Bachelor • February 7, 2013
Students across campus will join Sigma Chi this weekend in living humanely as they volunteer their time to running a Special Olympics basketball tournament at Wabash. The tournament is the largest of its kind in the state, and it provides an opportunity for inclusive fun and athleticism.
Members of Sigma Chi are in charge of the logistics for this tournament each year and see the event as a benefit to the campus at large. Victor Wagner ’13 was Philanthropy Chair last year and so was in charge of the tournament on Wabash’s end.
“Our job is to get all the equipment squared away, organize concessions, seats, and volunteers during the event,” he said. The tournament itself is organized by Montgomery County Special Olympics Coordinator Russ Switzer, but Wabash aims to make it run as smoothly as possible.
“The Special Olympics has worked with Sigma Chi for all the events for about the past ten years,” Wagner said. Volunteers were slightly short-staffed last year as the tournament took place on Superbowl Sunday, but current Sigma Chi Philanthropy Chair Scott Morrison ‘14 is confident that this year’s tournament will run smoothly.
The tournament’s participants include a wide variety of ages and experience levels. This year fifty teams are participating from fifteen counties across the state – from the Chicago area through central and southern Indiana.
“Athletes look forward to this annual event,” said Switzer. “Teams have to play two games before sectionals, and they can do that here.” Sectional games will then be played at University of Indianapolis, DePauw University, Pike High School, and Logansport.
For some, Wagner says “it allows teams to size up their opponents” for the state tournament. Whatever the team’s level, the tournament gives participants a chance to participate in an event they love, and Wabash students have the opportunity to facilitate this love.
This tournament is a unique opportunity to connect Wabash with greater Indiana in addition to its immediate connections with Crawfordsville. “It’s a good way to do some concrete philanthropy work that means something to a lot of people,” said Morrison. “You can see the kids’ faces and see yourself making a difference.”
Any students interested in volunteering can still contact Morrison to take part on Sunday. Donating just a couple of hours to the cause or coming out to support the athletes are both great ways to show support. “Volunteers every year see that it’s all about attitude, and our athletes have that,” said Switzer.
“This is a fantastic partnership between Wabash College and the Special Olympics,” said Switzer. “We both gain from this. The athletes have a great attitude, and volunteers get to learn about the Special Olympics.”
From the organization that teaches Wabash students to organize large events and practice their mission statement to the athletes who travel from across the state to take part, the tournament is a reminder that attitude can overcome handicaps. Students can learn from the athletes, who come for the love of the game.