Incoming volleyball freshman Ali Kreklow took time out of her day to help with the Special Olympics Friday.
May 30, 2014
By Andrew Melroe - Strategic Communications assistant
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Friday marked the opening day of the Summer State Games for Special Olympics Missouri. More the 2,500 athletes from around the state will travel to Columbia for the weekend to compete in events at sites around Columbia. Sports featured during the four-day event will include aquatics, basketball, bowling, powerlifting, track & field, and volleyball. Opening ceremonies are Friday night at Hickman High School, but the basketball championships began this morning at the Hearnes Center. Members of the Missouri Athletic department took time out of their day to help referee the athletes.
Former Missouri basketball player and current Tiger Basketball radio broadcaster Gary Link was excited to come out and give back to the sport he loves.
"Anytime you get to come out on the basketball court, it's fun," Link commented. "These men and women here at Special Olympics work just as hard as our athletes work. They want to be great teammates and show great sportsmanship. I love their enthusiasm. They are passionate about their sport just like our Tigers are passionate."
The dedication to true healthy competition is the underlying theme of the weekend. The passion the athletes show to the sport is what brought Mizzou Athletics sport psychologist Dr. Scotta Morton to volunteer for the Summer State Games.
"I enjoy witnessing the inspiring moments. Just last game, both teams were giving the ball back to a player 10 times just so he could score a basket," Morton said. "It's not about a win or a loss, it's about how we play the game, and it's about respecting each other."
Morton and other volunteers realize what it means to give back. Giving back to the community is a vital part of Missouri's theme "One Mizzou", something incoming freshman volleyball player Allie Kreklow has already encompassed as a member of Mizzou Athletics.
"I think it's good for the Mizzou community to come together as one and give back to the community" Kreklow said. "I think it's something that sometimes gets taken for granted, and people don't realize how much you can help by giving back and how much Special Olympics appreciates our help."
The experience gained from being around the athletes will help Kreklow down the road as she begins college.
"I love kids and I've looked into teaching special education," Kreklow said. "Being around them, teaching them, and seeing how they react to certain situations is really good experience for me."
The joy around everyone involved in Special Olympics is why it has become an important part of the sporting world. The athletes roaming the courts and fields of Columbia this weekend show the same love of the sport that we see from the Tiger athletes. This weekend will be a time for the community to turn around and cheer for those who show Mizzou athletics. A schedule of events for the weekend can be found under the calendar tab on the Special Olympics Missouri webpage, www.somo.org.
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