The Dream Team

The volleyball coach at my son Charley’s game had warned me. No question.

“You can’t sit here,” she said, “Families sit in the upper level out of harm’s way.”

 “I can see better here,” I insisted. Then the volleyball hit me, and I was seeing stars.

 Face bleeding, nose smashed, lip cut, I tried not to cry. I collected myself in the ladies room. I considered leaving. But Charley wouldn’t understand if he looked up and I wasn’t there.

 As I opened the door I expected to see a volleyball game in progress. What I saw, I’ll never forget.

There, beside the volleyball net, was my son, surrounded by his team, and his opponents, too. He was crying, and his buddies had turned their attention from their own moment of glory to make sure Charley was okay. I walked over to him and he threw his arms around me and cried some more. I assured him I was okay, his teammates slapped him high-fives, the excitement returned, and the game resumed.

Special Olympics is about sportsmanship and there’s so much more to it than beating the other guy. It’s all about the dream and the team.

The dream to be a winner, and the team that loves the sport and loves each other. It’s about helping a teammate find his smile so he can get back in the game. That’s what it means to win.

Isn’t it ironic? Those who are often considered the least of us because of their special needs are often the ones who teach us the most.

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