Pre-Game "Shouting Bobcats" Team photo
I joined Special Olympics Unified Sports Basketball this past winter and had an absolute blast.
I have worked and volunteered for Special Olympics over the past 10 years. I have prepped athletes for big and small events, with the press, for fundraising purposes. Athletes helped me with complex projects – fundraising, IT, and board training. We’ve visited members of Congress, and the athlete led the conversation. I have been incredibly inspired working with athletes from all over the world and seeing the varied skills and talents in the office.
But what has been so much fun about the team I played on recently has been that it’s not work, it’s play. It’s fun. And this “don’t-reward-yourself-with-fun-kind-of-New-England-puritan” re-discovered the joy of sport 25 years after high school.
I re-discovered quickly bonding with teammates, sharing the fun, responsibility and experience of competitions. Eye contact, passing the ball, hustling, high-fiving, coaching each other, giving it your all --together. Sharing a bad ref call, going nuts at the buzzer, rallying around your teammate at the foul line, cheering when your teammate steals the ball and fast breaks for a lay-up. No emails, no memos, no meetings, no conference calls. It’s learning what to do through playing together. On our team, all the labels were ripped off. Everyone’s disabilities disappeared. Measure my self-esteem before and after the 8 weeks? It was up! My basketball skills before and after – they improved, too. And if someone had asked my family and employer about how I was doing socially, physically, mentally, they all would have reported: She’s really happy!
So, for those work-a-holics out there who don’t have time to get into shape or who don’t feel satisfied with going to the gym, or don’t have a lot of time to make friends or want to join a sports team but are afraid ….I suggest you try Special Olympics Unified Sports….and have fun. The risk is you might feel fantastic.
About Christine Parker Hunt: I'm Senior Director of Strategic Gifts at Special Olympics headquarters. I played in an adult league as described above and we scrimmaged every Tuesday night at St. Coletta’s in Washington, DC for about 2 hours. When that ended, I quickly joined the Special Olympics DC Volleyball league, also on Tuesday night’s at Gonzaga High school so I could continue to feel fantastic.