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Calvin Softball Players Volunteer Time With Special Olympics

Friday, May 13, 2011

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NCAA SAAC Partnership Announcement With Special Olympics

A Special Olympics competition took place outside Calvin’s Huizenga Tennis and Track Center on May 7, and the Calvin softball team spent the day volunteering with the Special Olympians. Each Calvin softball player was paired with a competing Special Olympian and assisted in the various events.

The volunteer effort by the Calvin softball team was organized through Calvin’s SAAC (Student-Athlete-Advisory-Council) chapter. “It was a great event and our players were blessed by the event,” said Calvin softball coach Sharon DeKleine. “Special Olympics is a wonderful organization and the athletes competing have so much joy and determination when they compete. Each one of our (Calvin) players had a smile on their face when the day was done. The joy from the Special Olympians was certainly passed on to our players.”

At the NCAA Convention this past January, The Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is initiating a partnership with Special Olympics in a coordinated community-outreach effort that incorporates the hundreds of SAACs at Division III schools and conference offices with the Special Olympics Programs that exist in each state.

The effort announced at the NCAA Convention combines the student-athlete citizenship component already in place locally with the vast SAAC network throughout Division III – all under the umbrella of the division’s new strategic-positioning platform.

“We believe this relationship with Special Olympics is a perfect fit for Division III,” said SAAC chair Marie Godwin at the NCAA convention. “Special Olympics is an established nationally recognized organization with programs offered in every state, and they involve hands-on interaction and physical activity, which are elements our committee believes are important with an initiative such as this.”

Special Olympics is a global, nonprofit organization that provides year-round sports training and athletics competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. That interaction and physical activity gives participants the chance to develop fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and share those skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and community members.

Division III SAAC partnership
with Special Olympics

* Designed to improve the lives of Special Olympics athletes through their involvement with Division III student-athletes and foster a mutual learning experience between Division III student-athletes and Special Olympics athletes.
  * Aligns with the Division III attribute of citizenship in the division’s strategic-positioning platform.
  * Input from conferences revealed that several already partner with Special Olympics and most were amenable to establishing a national partnership through the Division III SAAC.
  * About 200 Division III schools already have existing relationships with Special Olympics.
  * Federated structure of Special Olympics organizations around the country provides opportunities for Division III student-athletes in every state to participate in a variety of existing programs or create their own service opportunities.
  * Program to be implemented in 2011-12 and evaluated annually. A Division III SAAC subcommittee will oversee and administer the national partnership.
  * Outreach activities could range from sports clinics to bowling, pizza parties or fundraising efforts.
  * The Division III SAAC will provide a list of primary contacts in each state who will serve as gateway for Division III student-athlete involvement with Special Olympics.
  * The Division III SAAC will provide a form by which Division III student-athletes can report any activities with Special Olympics at their institution or in their locale. The reporting structure will be similar to that used for the Haitian Relief project.

Posted in: Announcements: Softball
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